Vladimir Putin says he does not want Russia to impose sanctions on Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow, Russia July 5, 2019. (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)
Updated 09 July 2019

Vladimir Putin says he does not want Russia to impose sanctions on Georgia

  • Russian parliament unanimously backed a sanctions resolution earlier on Tuesday
  • Putin made comments in broadcast on state television

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said in televised comments on Tuesday that he did not support a parliamentary call to impose tough economic sanctions on Georgia.

The Russian parliament unanimously backed a resolution earlier on Tuesday urging the government to draw up sanctions against Georgia, a move that would sharply escalate a political crisis between the neighbors.

“I would not impose anything that could complicate our relations for the sake of restoring full ties,” Putin said in comments broadcast on state television.

Lawmakers in Russia's lower-house of parliament, the Duma, supported an appeal for the government to "impose special economic measures on Georgia, where anti-Russian provocations continue".

Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said the resolution recommends banning Georgian wine and mineral water in Russia, as well as "limiting financial transactions from our country to Georgia."

Protesters in Georgian capital Tbilisi have rallied over the past weeks after a Russian lawmaker spoke in the Georgian parliament, with Moscow responding by tightening restrictions on wine imports and suspending flights to Georgia.

Tensions rose further after a Georgian presenter launched into a live-TV expletive-laden tirade against President Vladimir Putin, sparking fury in Moscow.

"We consider the insults to our country, threats to our citizens and insults to our president inadmissible," Volodin was quoted as saying on the Duma website.

The Kremlin said the parliament's "tough" and "unified" position followed "the unprecedented behaviour of the Georgian TV presenter".

"This kind of thuggish behaviour fuels Russophobia. This is very dangerous," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"But, as you know, the decision is made by the government and ultimately the president," Peskov added.

Georgian channel Rustavi-2 issued an apology after presenter Giorgi Gabunia began his programme late Sunday by addressing Putin with a string of expletives in Russia.

The channel suspended Gabunia for two months.

Georgia's Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze called the outburst a "categorically unacceptable" provocation that could threaten peace in the nation.

A ban on flights between the two countries decreed by Putin last month went into effect Monday. It was bound to affect the summer flow of tourists to Georgia's Black Sea resorts, traditionally popular among Russians seeking beaches and sun.

Russia banned wines from Georgia in 2006 amid tensions between Moscow and the pro-Western Georgian leadership at the time, only lifting the ban in 2013 after a new government was elected.

(With Reuters and AFP)

Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, government blames ‘electromagnetic attack’

People pour to the streets in Caracas on July 22, 2019 as the capital and other parts of Venezuela are being hit by a massive power cut. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 43 sec ago

Widespread blackout hits Venezuela, government blames ‘electromagnetic attack’

  • Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the outage on Monday was caused by an “electromagnetic attack,” without providing evidence

CARACAS: More than half of Venezuela’s 23 states lost power on Monday, according to Reuters witnesses and reports on social media, a blackout the government blamed on an “electromagnetic attack.”
It was the first blackout to include the capital, Caracas, since March, when the government blamed the opposition and United States for a series of power outages that left millions of people without running water and telecommunications.
The blackouts exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the outage on Monday was caused by an “electromagnetic attack,” without providing evidence. He added that authorities were in the process of re-establishing service.
Power returned for about 10 minutes to parts of southeastern Bolivar state, site of the Guri hydroelectric dam — the source of most of Venezuela’s generation — but went out again, according to a Reuters witness. Electricity was still out throughout Caracas.
“It terrifies me to think we are facing a national blackout again,” said Maria Luisa Rivero, a 45-year-old business owner from the city of Valencia, in the central state of Carabobo.
“The first thing I did was run to freeze my food so that it does not go bad like it did like the last time in March. It costs a lot to buy food just to lose it,” she said.
The oil-rich country’s hyperinflationary economic crisis has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine, prompting over 4 million Venezuelans to leave the country.
Venezuela’s national power grid has fallen into disrepair after years of inadequate investment and maintenance, according to the opposition and power experts.
“These blackouts are catastrophic,” said 51-year-old janitor Bernardina Guerra, who lives in Caracas. “I live in the eastern part of the city and there the lights go out every day. Each day things are worse.”