Georgians opposed to the resumption of direct air service from Moscow to Tbilisi gathered at the airport to protest the first arrival of a Russian plane in over four years. While on board, the passengers celebrated with champagne but, upon arrival, the locals greeted them with hostility.

According to Russian media, the Azimut airline plane, which made its first direct flight from Moscow after a 4-year break, landed in Tbilisi. En route, passengers on board were treated to champagne to mark the occasion.

Based on the anticipated protesters, according to media sources, a significant number of law enforcement officers were mobilized at the Tbilisi airport. Representatives of the tourism sector and political leaders also were also present. After the flight from Moscow landed, the opposition tried to break through the police cordon.

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In addition to Georgian and EU flags, protesters were holding Ukrainian flags. In addition, the Georgians somewhat paraphrased the words that the Ukrainian military said to the Russian invaders on Snake Island: “Russian plane, go f*** yourself.”

Georgian opposition protesting against the first Russian flight. PHOTO: Twitter

 

"You Are Not Welcome," said another placard, while a banner held by several people read: "Russia Is a Terrorist State."

"Despite the opposition of the Georgian people, Russia has landed its unwelcome flight in Tbilisi," tweeted Georgia's pro-EU President Salome Zurabishvili.

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Transdnistria broke from Moldova before the Soviet collapse and fought a brief war against the newly independent state.

Russia fought a brief but bloody war with Georgia in 2008, and anti-Russian sentiment runs deeps in the pro-Western country.

In response to anti-Moscow rallies in Tbilisi, Russia banned air travel with the country in 2019.

On 10 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted restrictions on flights to Georgia, and also introduced a 90-day visa-free regime for Georgian citizens.

Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, S7, Red Wings, UTair, and Pobeda used to fly regularly to Georgia from Russia before the suspension. Georgian Airways and MyWay Airlines also flew to Russia.

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 The Kremlin’s decision to lift the ban on air travel to Georgia and the visa regime has been hotly debated both in Georgia and outside the country.

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Where is a Stinger missile when you need one?

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