Putin says Russia will not impose trade restrictions on Georgia

The Russian leader made the pledge after the country’s legislature voted in favour of trade controls.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a step towards cooling tensions with Georgia by rejecting calls from politicians for trade restrictions.

    Relations between the two neighbours dipped to a new low last month following violent protests in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, sparked by a Russian legislator’s appearance at the country’s parliament.

    Putin promptly banned direct flights between the two nations citing security concerns for Russian tourists.

    Tensions escalated further on Sunday when a host on Georgia’s independent Rustavi 2 television station unleashed a stream of profanities about Putin and his parents in a live broadcast.

    Georgian officials quickly denounced the rant, describing it as another attempt by the opposition to deepen the rift with Moscow. But the Russian legislature voted on Tuesday to urge the government to consider trade penalties against Georgia in response to the TV host’s verbal assault.

    ‘Some scumbag’

    Putin, however, showed a willingness to alleviate the crisis, saying he opposes the proposed restrictions.

    “I wouldn’t do it out of my respect for the Georgian nation,” Putin said in televised remarks. “For the sake of restoring our ties, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt our relations.”

    He dismissed the Georgian TV host as “some scumbag” who should not be taken seriously.

    Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, after which Moscow recognised the independence of two of Georgia’s breakaway republics.

    Georgia in recent years has hosted more than one million Russian travellers a year, with tourists enjoying the lush seaside or green mountains despite the animosity towards the Kremlin and its policies.

    Russian politicians earlier this week called for bans on Georgian wine and mineral water exports – measures Moscow last imposed in 2006 following another political spat. The bans were lifted six years later.

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