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)

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 19 November 2019

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges