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article imagePutin opposes sanctions against Georgia

By AFP     Jul 9, 2019 in Politics

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he was against imposing sanctions on Georgia after MPs backed economic measures in Russia's latest row with the neighbouring Caucasus country.

"With regard to sanctions against Georgia, I would not do this out of respect for the Georgian people," Putin told journalists in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

"I would not do anything to complicate our relations," he added.

Earlier Tuesday Russian lawmakers adopted a resolution in favour of introducing economic sanctions against Georgia, as tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi rise.

Lawmakers in Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, unanimously backed a statement urging the imposition of "special economic measures on Georgia, where anti-Russian provocations continue".

Their statement did not recommend specific measures but lawmakers have raised the possibility of banning Georgian wine and mineral water in Russia, as well as limiting financial transactions.

Protesters in the Georgian capital Tbilisi have rallied over the past weeks after a Russian MP spoke in the Georgian parliament. Moscow responded by tightening restrictions on wine imports and suspending flights to Georgia.

Tensions rose further after a Georgian television presenter on Sunday evening launched into a live, expletive-laden tirade against Putin, sparking fury in Moscow.

"We consider the insults to our country, threats to our citizens and insults to our president inadmissible," Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin was quoted as saying on the Duma website.

The Kremlin said earlier Tuesday that the parliament's "tough" and "unified" position followed "the unprecedented behaviour of the Georgian TV presenter".

"This kind of thuggish behaviour fuels Russophobia. This is very dangerous," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Putin told journalists that the presenter "does not deserve the honour" of having a criminal case launched against him.

"Let him continue broadcasting," he said.

Georgian channel Rustavi-2 issued an apology after presenter Giorgi Gabunia began his programme late Sunday by addressing Putin with a string of expletives in Russian.

The channel suspended Gabunia for two months.

Georgia's Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze called the outburst "categorically unacceptable" and said it could threaten peace in the nation.

A ban on flights between the two countries decreed by Putin last month went into effect Monday. It will hit the summer flow of tourists to Georgia's Black Sea resorts, traditionally popular among Russians seeking beaches and sun.

Russia banned wines from Georgia in 2006 amid tensions between Moscow and the pro-Western Georgian leadership at the time, only lifting the ban in 2013 after a new government was elected.

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