Russia keeps up pressure on Georgia

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has posted a strong warning to neighbouring Georgia against threatening his country.

    Putin thanked MPs for supporting sanctions against Georgia

    Addressing the members of Russian parliament on Tuesday, before the adoption of a motion condemning Georgia's leadership, President Putin said that no country should get away with threatening Russia.

    "I would not allow anyone to talk to Russia in the language of provocation and blackmail," Putin said.

    He added that he was speaking specifically about Georgia.

    Putin thanked his MPs for drawing up the resolution which was adopted on Wednesday that supported the government's action to impose sanctions on Georgia, including a halt to transport and postal links.
      
    "I am grateful for your support of actions by the executive aimed at defending the rights, dignity and lives of our fellow citizens abroad," he said.

    "I would not allow anyone to talk to Russia in the language of provocation and blackmail"

    Vladimir Putin, Russian president

    Russia began the suspension of air, road, maritime, rail and postal links on Tuesday in retaliation to Georgia's arrest of four Russian military officers they accused of spying.

    Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that the blockade would continue despite the release of the four men on Monday.

    'Hostile rhetoric'

    A Kremlin official was quoted on the Gazeta.ru news website on Wednesday as having said that the sanctions would not be lifted until Georgia ended its "hostile rhetoric".

    Police have started singling out businesses and restaurants belonging to Georgians in Moscow saying they could be closed for various legal violations.

    A popular Georgian-owned casino has been closed on the grounds that it lacked proper authorisation for its gaming tables and slot machines.

    Lavrov said the measures were to cut off a flow of money that he claimed was being used by the Georgian leadership to increase its military strength in preparation for the "forceful seizure" of two pro-Russian breakaway regions.

    WTO threat

    In Georgia, the head of the central bank said his country would block Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation as long as economic sanctions were in force. Russia was hoping to end talks on entry this month.

    As a WTO member, Georgia has the power to block new entrants. Russia is the only major world economy still outside the 149-member body.

    Later this week, the Russian parliament is set to consider a bill that would allow the government to prevent Georgians living in Russia from sending money home.

    According to some estimates, about one million of Georgia's 4.4 million population work in Russia, and their families rely on the hundreds of millions of dollars that are sent back every year.

    Moscow's relations with Tbilisi have steadily worsened since Mikhail Saakashvili came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution, pledging to reduce Russia's influence, rein in the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and join Nato.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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