Tbilisi closing their Embassy, sends a strong message to those Russian citizens who wish to travel.
Russia on the other hand has kept it's Embassy open for Russian Citizens, but may close it's embassy doors to up to 1 million Georgians in a Tit for Tat measure as the Georgian conflict continues.
Tbilisi Closes Embassy, Toughens Visa Regime
01 September 2008
By Nabi Abdullaev / Staff Writer
Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Russia and toughened visa requirements for Russian citizens over the weekend in response to Moscow's decision to recognize the independence of its separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia said it would close its embassy in Tbilisi and indicated that Georgians would suffer any tit-for-tat visa measures more than Russians, noting that 600,000 to 1 million Georgian immigrants live in and near Moscow alone.
President Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, said Russia would give military support to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused U.S. military advisers of being involved in the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August.
The five-day conflict ended with a truce brokered by the European Union, but diplomatic tensions have flared after President Dmitry Medvedev announced last Tuesday that Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"We have received instructions at the Foreign Ministry, and we will cut diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told reporters in Tbilisi on Friday.
The last diplomats were to leave the Georgian Embassy in Moscow on Saturday. No one picked up the phone at the embassy on Sunday. Georgia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday that Russian citizens traveling to Georgia would have to seek visas at Georgian embassies and consulates in third countries and would need to provide a letter of invitation.
Previously, Russians could buy visas at the Georgian border for $20. Russia's Foreign Ministry described the cutting of ties as "regrettable," saying the hundreds of thousands of Georgian immigrants in and around Moscow would be deprived of diplomatic support.
It did not say whether tit-for-tat visa measures would follow. Medvedev said Sunday that agreements were being prepared with South Ossetia and Abkhazia to provide military, economic, social and humanitarian support.
"We of course will help them," Medvedev said in an interview with the state television channels. While Russia and Georgia continued to exchange barbs over the weekend, Georgian refugees uprooted by the military conflict could not return to their homes in so-called security zones set up by the Russian military in areas adjacent to South Ossetia's border, the United Nations refugee agency said Saturday.