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Putin on lifting visa regime

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 26
The recent statement of the Russian President Vladimer Putin on the possibility of lifting the visa regime with Georgia was a surprise for many. Putin made this statement with the background of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrovís remark that Russia was not ready for lifting the visa regime with Georgia.

What does this mean? Maybe it is an attempt by Russia to change its policy towards Georgia, suggesting the use of not force but rather soft pressure on Georgia, presumably - economic.

Although the Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze announced in response to Putinís statement, that Moscow has limited all the levers of pressure on Tbilisi she still admitted the possibility of using some new approach and levers in this direction.

Moscow has used everything against Tbilisi. First it started with economic ones restricting Georgian citizens from traveling to the Russian Federation, establishing a strict visa regime, banning Georgian production in Russia, and deporting illegal Georgian citizens from Russia. It imposed war on Georgia, occupied conflict regions, and declared de facto regimes as independent states, but all in vain - Tbilisi did not return to the orbit of Moscow.

Since the military attack against Georgia in 2008 the latter is always expecting aggressive steps from the Kremlin, including provocation, terrorist attacks, sending terrorists to the country, etc. This kind of anticipation increased after initialing the EU association agreement in Vilnius.

It is obvious that Moscow does not want anybody further from the former Soviet Union republics to be released from the grips of the Kremlin.

Of course, there is no limit of subversive activities and provocations from the Russian side. The recent installation of barbed wire fences along the administrative border between the Georgian mainland and its breakaway regions is a vivid example of this.

All of these actions are accompanied with occupation of more and more Georgian lands by the aggressor. However, this takes a place simultaneously with allowing economic and cultural activities. More and more Georgian wines, alcohol, and mineral waters together with the agricultural products are entering the Russian market, where they are welcomed.

It looks like the Kremlin is trying to give a more civilized look to its aggresive muzzle. Indeed, Moscow managed to beat the EU in the battle for Kiev. It offered Ukraine USD 15 billion, plus a very cheap price for natural gas in return for Kievís refusal to sign the EU association agreement.

Maybe Russian officials are preparing an economic attack on Georgia? This could include large investments and cheap credits, maybe even some flirtation with the idea of restoring the territorial integrity of the country - just about anything that would distance Georgia from the EU.

Presumably, Moscow might use all the shortcomings the EU made in Ukraine. For instance, the pressure put on Kiev in regards to the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. As soon as Putin made his last statement, certain materials appeared in the Georgian media suggesting to officials to weigh cautiously and attentively what kind of benefits Georgia would receive from either of side Ė Russia or the EU.

Let us see.