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Georgian FM: Punishment of Russian tourists visiting Abkhazia is idiocy2012-07-16 16:36
Georgia admitted "idiotic" the practice, under which foreign citizens are punishable in Georgia, if it becomes known that they had previously visited Abkhazia or South Ossetia without the permission of the Georgian authorities. According to the Echo Moskvy, this was announced by the Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze.gt-en-newsitem-inside
Trying to justify this practice Grigol Vashadze at first said "the law is harsh, but it's the law". He noted that the Russians can bypass the law if want: not to put records about a trip to Abkhazia in passport to visit Georgia without any obstacles.
But then Vashadze criticized the situation. "We are forced to do this idiocy instead of welcoming with open arms", he said.
As recalled by the Lenta.ru, in Georgia there is a law on the "occupied territories", concerning Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Under this law, these territories are still considered the Georgian lands. By the law, entry into Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Russia is prohibited. Violators can be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry urged the citizens to refrain from traveling to Georgia, saying the Russians could undergo "repression" there.
Officially, the Georgian authorities welcome Russian tourists. In early 2012, Georgia unilaterally abolished visa regime for Russians.