MOSCOW, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Flights of Georgian airlines to Russia will be suspended from July 8, Russian Transport Ministry said Saturday, amid rising unrest in the Caucasus country.
The Georgian aviation authorities have been informed about the flights suspension by Russian aviation authorities, according to a statement by the ministry.
The reason for the suspension of flights is "the need to ensure a sufficient level of aviation security", as well as Georgia's overdue debts for air navigation activities, it said.
The suspension of flights will continue until the provision of aviation safety programs by Georgian Airways and MyWay Airlines to the Russian side and their audit and approval by the Russian side, and until the full settlement of Georgia's air navigation service debt, according to the statement.
The Russian aviation authorities also expressed their readiness to hold consultations with Georgia, it added.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering Russian airlines to indefinitely suspend passenger flights from Russia to Georgia starting July 8.
Moscow was forced to impose the travel ban to protect Russians from extremist actions ongoing in Georgia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Tensions between Russia and Georgia escalated sharply on Thursday and Friday after thousands of Georgian people gathered in front of the parliament building in downtown Tbilisi in protest against a Russian lawmaker's visit.
As a result, at least 240 people were injured in the riots and over 300 participants in the rally were detained.
Currently, about 5,000 to 7,000 Russian tourists who bought tours via travel agencies are currently staying in Georgia, and the number of those who organized a trip on their own is two or three times higher, TASS reported, quoting the head of the Russian Association of Tour Operators (RATO).
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry recommended Russians to avoid visiting Georgia and demanded that the Georgian authorities ensure "unconditional safety" of Russian citizens staying in the country.