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)