Russia shuts down consulate in Georgia
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 3, 2008: The consular department at Russia's embassy in Georgia will shut down on Wednesday following Tbilisi's formal announcement that it is to cut diplomatic ties with Russia, the embassy's press attache said.
"The Russian Embassy's consular service is halting its operations as of today in accordance with the Georgian government's decision to sever diplomatic ties with Russia," Alexander Savinov said.
Savinov said visa applications that had already been submitted would be considered as usual.
Georgia officially announced that it was cutting diplomatic relations with Russia on Tuesday.
Savinov also said it was still being discussed when exactly Russian embassy staff would leave Tbilisi, saying that, "As yet there is no firm date."
Georgia's move to cut ties was a response to Russia's recognition on August 26 of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. The decision to recognize them came after an attack by Georgia on breakaway South Ossetia on August 8 and alleged preparations for an attack on Abkhazia. Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to peace." The operation was concluded on August 12.
Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Tbilisi in the early 1990s, and most of their citizens were granted Russian citizenship in the early 2000s.
Russia's foreign minister said Moscow could review the issue of visits by Georgians to Russia now that diplomatic ties have been severed, saying that in the current situation leaving things as they were "would be hard to understand," Sergei Lavrov said.
He also said that Georgia's move to cut diplomatic ties would take a heavy toll on the great many Georgians living and working in Russia