Russia simplifies visa regime with Georgia
The decision on visa facilitation for Georgian citizens is coming into force in Russia today, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Starting from December 23rd, 2015, Georgian citizens will be provided with business, work, study and humanitarian visas of any length of time, as well as private visas regardless of the relationship between the inviting and invited persons on the basis of valid invitations issued in a manner stipulated by the Russian Federal Migration Service authorities, the ministry added.
"The Russian side is firm about making further steps aimed at easing conditions for communication between citizens of the two countries and does not rule out the introduction of a visa-free regime on the basis of reciprocity," the foreign ministry noted.
Grigory Karasin discussed the actions of the Russian side on the liberalization of the visa regime with Georgia with the special representative of the Georgian Prime Ministry, Zurab Abashidze, during the telephone conversation.
Russians can visit Georgia freely, but Georgian citizens must get a visa permit to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his 11th annual press conference that Russia is ready to abolish the visa regime with Georgia.
The leader of the Free Georgia party, Kakha Kukava, urged the Georgian authorities to take steps to introduce a visa-free regime for the citizens of the republic. "A visa-free regime with Russia is no less important for Georgia than the liberalization of visas with the European Union," the politician stressed.
The head of the Center for Global Studies, Nana Devdariani, said in an interview with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza that the simplification of the visa regime will make life easier for Georgian citizens, because the procedure was extremely uncomfortable and complicated people's lives. "It prevented Georgian citizens' communication with relatives in Russia and business partners," she explained.
The analyst noted that the abolition of the visa regime is a component of restoring good neighborly relations between Georgia and Russia. "A similar process is going with the West. And while maintaining the visa regime and all the uncertainties between the two countries, people are gradually drifting apart," Nana Devdariani summarized.
According to the head of the Institute of Management Strategy, Petre Mamradze, the simplification of the visa regime really makes life easier for the citizens of Georgia. "One out of every four ethnic Georgians lives in Russia, it's about one million people in total. Their relatives have to travel back and forth, and the money they receive is actually the main contribution to the currency reserve in Georgia," he said.
The expert drew attention to the fact that countries have no diplomatic relations, so in front of the former Russian consulate huge queues form. "So it's a wonderful step. Moreover, in 2011, Georgia has unilaterally announced a visa-free regime for Russian citizens," said the head of the Institute of Management Strategy.
"I think the majority in Georgia welcomes this decision. People visit Russia clearly for business and family reasons. Therefore, the existed limitations were perceived as injustice," Peter Mamradze concluded.