Russia has described as a provocation a decision by the Georgian authorities to scrap visas for residents of Russia's North Caucasus republics.
"The attempt itself to divide Russia's population into different categories contradicts civilized interstate communication norms," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Tbilisi's move is yet another attempt to "destabilize the situation in the North Caucasus" and "draw attention away from the Georgian authorities' destructive policies towards [the former Georgian republics of] South Ossetia and Abkhazia," the ministry said.
Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said on Monday that Georgia was planning to introduce a visa-free regime with Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Adygeya.
On Tuesday, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said that the visa-free regime would come into effect on October 13. Russians outside the North Caucasus will still need a visa to enter Georgia.
Later in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Georgia's decision, which had not been discussed with Russia, was "yet another propagandist move."
Tbilisi broke off diplomatic ties with Moscow after a five-day war in August 2008 over Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway republic, Abkhazia, shortly after ceasefire.
MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti)