Arrested Georgian photojournalists are “yet other victims of arbitrariness” of the Georgian authorities, Alexander Lukashevich, the Russian foreign ministry's spokesman, said in a written statement on July 12.
“Anti-Russian hysteria again gains momentum in Tbilisi,” he said. “The [Georgian] authorities are intensively convincing the international community and their own population that Georgia is flooded with Russian spies and saboteurs, which the valiant [Georgian] special services are tirelessly fighting with.”
“Authors of ‘spy stories’ now needed Georgian photographers as characters. I want to express my sincere compassion for these people, who became yet other victims of arbitrariness of the authorities in Tbilisi,” Lukashevich said.
He also said that another example when “innocent people are becoming hostages of anti-Russian paranoia” was the case of Russian citizen, Yuri Skrilnikov, who was arrested in Georgia in May, 2010; he was sentenced to 18 years in prison in connection to charges involving currency forgery. In a separate case Skrilnikov earlier this month was found guilty of espionage against Georgia and sentenced to 14 more years in jail.
“With the facilitation of Switzerland, which represents our interests in Tbilisi, we are continuing to achieve the termination of illegality in respect of Russian citizens,” Lukashevich said.