The founder of Georgian Airways, the national airline of Georgia, has reportedly prohibited the country's president, Salome Zourabichvili, from utilizing its services.
This decision comes in response to President Zourabichvili's announcement of a boycott against the airline due to its resumption of flights to Russia. The ban was confirmed by Tamaz Gaiashvili, the founder of privately-owned Georgian Airways, who labeled President Zourabichvili as "persona non grata" until she apologizes to the Georgian people.
Flight ban and visa
Russia recently lifted a four-year ban on direct flights with Georgia and eliminated a longstanding visa requirement for Georgians traveling to Russia. President Zourabichvili had urged Georgian authorities to counteract this Russian initiative, which went unheeded. While some Georgian officials welcomed the resumption of flights, there were demonstrations in central Tbilisi by Georgians who advocate for the country to distance itself from Moscow and align more closely with the European Union.
A significant portion of Georgians oppose any reconciliation with Russia, as Russian troops are stationed in two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which constitute around one-fifth of Georgia's territory. However, there are also Georgians who are more receptive to the idea of improving ties with Moscow. In recent years, the Georgian government has worked towards enhancing relations with Russia and refrained from imposing sanctions on Russia in response to the conflict in Ukraine.
President's strained relationship with govt
President Zourabichvili's position holds primarily ceremonial duties, and her relationship with the government is strained. She has cautioned that deepening ties with Russia could potentially jeopardize Georgia's prospects of joining the European Union in the future. As of now, there has been no immediate response from President Zourabichvili regarding the ban imposed by Georgian Airways' founder.