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Russian MPs plans to visit Tbilisi

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, July 20
Leonid Kalashnikov, head of the Russian State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Eurasian Integration and a member of Russia’s Communist Party, has declared that Russian parliamentarians are going to visit Tbilisi at the invitation of a Russia-affiliated Georgian opposition party, the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG).

As Kalashnikov told Russian news agency Izvestia, the parliamentary diplomacy will promote the strengthening of ties between the two countries.

"We will definitely go to Tbilisi. Russian MPs have not been in Georgia for at least ten years. Such contacts can be used to solve a number of issues. At the meetings we will discuss diplomatic relations, economic ties and the visa issue. It is good that this initiative is bilateral," Kalashnikov said.

He added that the APG members invited Russian parliamentarians to Tbilisi during their recent visit to Moscow.

Giorgi Lomia, Ada Marshania and Nato Chkheidze from the pro-Russian opposition Alliance of Patriots arrived in Moscow on July 12. They are the first Georgian MPs to visit Moscow since the Georgia-Russian August War of 2008.

Despite the fact that 20% of Georgia’s territories are occupied by Russia, the Georgian lawmakers did not raise the issue of occupation at the meeting, which along with Kalashnikov was attended by Kazbek Taisayev from Communist Party and Artyom Kavinov from Putin’s Yedinaya Rossiya faction.

Instead, the APG members spoke on the necessity to restore diplomatic relations and the abolition of Georgia’s Law about Occupation, according to which entry of the occupied territories by foreign citizens and stateless persons from any other direction apart from officially recognized state border are prohibited and are punishable under the Criminal Code of Georgia.

Discussions also focused on the simplification of the visa regime between Russia and Georgia and also on NATO- Georgia joint military drills, which were denounced by the Russian authorities.

The sides also agreed to establish an informal working group, which will gather every month and discuss the normalization process between Russia and Georgia.

The visit was followed by negative assessments from the majority of Georgian diplomats and politicians.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia welcomes the relationship between the Russian and Georgian lawmakers.