Georgia's decision to introduce 90-day visa-free entry rules for Russian citizens residing in North Caucasus will help integration between Georgia and in this region, suffering from the Russian federal forces' "terror", Vano Merabishvili, the Georgian interior minister, said.
"Those living in the North Caucasus are under the [Russian] federal power-wielding structures' terror," Merabishvili said in an interview with the Rustavi 2 TV aired late on October 16.
"It is beneficial for us from the political, economic, as well as humanitarian point of view to have more integration with the North Caucasus people and to give them possibility [residents of the region] to be connected with the western world via Georgia and what is also important I think the number of tourists will increase; they will arrive here for business, holiday, medical treatment," Merabishvili said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on October 14, that Georgia’s unilateral decision to introduce visa-free rules for residents in seven North Caucasus republics was “a provocation” and an attempt “to destabilize” situation in the region. The decision was came under the opposition's criticism in Georgia.
Extracts from Merabishvili's interview were used in a story, which Georgia's most popular television station Rustavi 2's weekly program Kurieri P.S. dedicated to defending Georgia's decision.
"By the fact that Russia got angry one can guess that Georgia has done right thing," a journalist said in his report.