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Ukraine proposes to impose sanctions against Georgian Airways, its Founders

Madona Gasanova
01.06.23 20:27
Ukraine proposes to extend international sanctions to Georgian Airways, a flag carrier of Georgia, which began to operate direct flights between Georgia and Russia. This was reported on the portal of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) of Ukraine - War & Sanctions.

In addition to Georgian Airways, the list of legal entities at risk of imposing sanctions includes Aero Handling Georgia, which was created to serve Russian airlines.

In addition, Georgian Airways founder Tamaz Gaiashvili and his brother, owner of the airline David Gaiashvili, have been added to the list of individuals at risk of sanctions.

"The activities of Georgian Airways, which are aimed at significantly intensifying and simplifying transport connections, including for representatives of Russian business in Georgia, lead to an increase in the risks of the formation of new sanctions circumvention schemes, and an increase in the integration of Russian business into the Georgian economy," the statement published on the website - War & Sanctions - reads.

The portal indicates that Georgian Airways is associated with Aero Handling Georgia through their founders and executives.

"So, the founders of Aero Handling Georgia LLC were Davyd Tsivtsivadze, who is registered at the same address as the director of "Georgian Airways" Tamaz Gaiashvili; Davyd Kvaratskhelia, son of pro-Russian Georgian activist, head of the Georgian-Russian Friendship Center, head of the "Neutral Georgia" party Valery Kvaratskhelia. Davyd Kvaratskhelia is also the director of the company Ltd Piloti (404541830), the sole owner of which is the director of Georgian Airways - Tamaz Gaiashvili," the portal states.

On May 10, Russia unexpectedly announced that it would restore direct flights to Georgia -- after suspending them in 2019 -- and cancel visa requirements for Georgians visiting Russia. Over a week later, on May 19, the first flight arrived from Moscow to Tbilisi's airport on Russia's Azimuth Airlines. Passengers on the inaugural flight, including some prominent Georgian pro-Russian activists as well as ordinary tourists, were greeted by a media scrum and hundreds of protesters.

The government of the ruling Georgian Dream party, which has faced accusations of appeasing Russia and failing to sufficiently support Ukraine, has argued the resumption of direct flights will boost tourism revenues and make life easier for Georgians who need to travel to Russia. It has sought to allay Western concerns by emphasizing that economic ties with Russia don't contradict the spirit of its relationship to the West and that they shouldn't affect the country's bid to join the European Union.

The EU said it regretted that Georgia was resuming flights to Russia at a time when the block has closed its airspace to Russian planes in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"The world is isolating Russia to force it to stop the war, but Georgia is welcoming Russian airlines and sending its own to Moscow. All while 20% of Georgian territory remains occupied by Russia with impunity. The Kremlin will surely be delighted with such a result," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said. 

Georgia’s president, Salome Zourabichvili, who has previously clashed with the government over mending ties with Moscow, also voiced her opposition in a tweet post.

“Despite the opposition of the Georgian people, Russia has landed its unwelcome flight in Tbilisi. No to flights to Russia!,” Zourabichvili said.

Businessman Tamaz Gaiashvili was among Georgians welcoming Putin's decision to resume flights. Georgian Airways first flight for Moscow left Tbilisi on the morning of Saturday May 20th and arrived almost three hours later in Moscow. The airline said it plans to offer seven such trips per week.

On May 20, President Zourabichvili declare a boycott of Georgian Airways and urged people to join it. “This is a company that uses the state to enrich itself. The same thing happened during the previous government. It continued during the Covid-19 pandemic and now they want to take advantage of the new reality [the resumption of flights to Russia], which is unacceptable to the majority of our population.”

On Sunday May 21st, Georgian Airways announced that it was banning the country’s president from boarding its planes. 

Source: BMG & News agencies