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  Monday, August 26, 2019
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Georgia intends to protest to the international civil aviation body Russia's decision to suspend air traffic with the South Caucasus state following a diplomatic row last week
Georgia intends to protest to the international civil aviation body Russia's decision to suspend air traffic with the South Caucasus state following a diplomatic row last week, the Georgian civil aviation service said Tuesday. The Russian Transportation Ministry announced Monday it was suspending transportation links with Georgia, an apparent reaction by the Kremlin to Tbilisi's arrest last week of four Russian servicemen on espionage charges. The four were released to visiting OSCE representatives later Monday and flown to Moscow aboard an emergencies ministry plane. "We are going to lodge a protest with the International Civil Aviation Organization against what was a political decision made by the Russian leadership," Sakaeronavigatsia said in a news release. The Russian civil aviation service, however, denied the move was politically motivated, saying the decision to suspend air links with Georgia was based on the outstanding debt owed by Georgian aviation companies to Russia. Alexander Neradko, head of the Russian Federal Air Transportation Agency, said Monday that Georgia's unpaid debt stood at more than $3.6 million, in addition to a current figure of $176,000. He said the suspension will be in effect until the debt is settled. But Sakaeronavigatsia denies that Georgian airlines owe Russia anything. The company said it does not intend to close air corridors to Russian companies, although it does not rule it out. Sakaero received a written notice of the air traffic suspension early Tuesday.
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