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    Russian Foreign Ministry Slams Georgia Over Allegations of Moscow Involvement in Tbilisi Unrest

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied on Friday that Russia was involved in the unrest in Georgia, adding that the ban on Russian tourist travel to the nation will hurt its economy.

    "They decided to host an interparliamentary forum, were appalled by their own decision, shot each other […] and the next day the entire country is covered in ‘Russia is to Blame' banners [...] Are you happy now? The invader is retreating and is taking its tourists with it, out of your economy", she wrote on Facebook.

    She also criticized Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili for "joining the chorus" of those accusing Russia of "occupying" the breakaway provinces that split from Georgia after a war with Russia in the summer of 2008. Zourabichvili cut short a trip to Belarus and is returning to Tbilisi.

    The Georgian capital of Tbilisi has been swept by recent protests. The rallies erupted Thursday over the participation of Russian delegates in a session of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. Georgian opposition lawmakers left the session as the president of the assembly, Sergey Gavrilov, a member of the Russian delegation, opened the meeting in the seat of the head of the Georgian parliament.

    Radicals attempted to storm the parliament building where Russian representatives were located, demanding the resignation of the parliament speaker and other officials.

    The rally was dispersed by special forces who used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered airlines to stop transporting Russian tourists to Georgia starting 8 July over concerns for their safety. Russian travel agencies were advised not to sell package tours to the country until the ban is lifted.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the measure is aimed at protecting Russians from local extremism in Georgia.

    "These are forced restrictions imposed by Russia to guarantee the safety of Russian nationals in the light of extremist actions that are going on in Georgia," Peskov said.

    Peskov emphasized that the two-week delay would allow Russians who are already in Georgia to return.

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    Tags:
    Maria Zakharova, Dmitry Peskov, unrest, Georgia, Russia
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