Moscow fumes at obscene anti-Putin rant by Georgian TV host
Russia on Monday fumed after a presenter in Georgia launched into a live-TV expletive-laden tirade against President Vladimir Putin, sparking the latest row between the neighbouring countries.
Protesters in Georgian capital Tbilisi have rallied over the past weeks after a Russian lawmaker spoke in the Georgian parliament, with Moscow responding by tightening restrictions on wine imports and suspending flights to Georgia.
Risking further strain on relations, a presenter with opposition Georgian channel Rustavi-2, Giorgi Gabunia, began his programme late Sunday by addressing Putin with a string of expletives in Russian.
The channel issued an apology, and Georgia’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze called the outburst a “categorically unacceptable” provocation that could threaten peace in the nation.
The obscenities directed at Putin provoked a furious reaction from the Kremlin. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “absolutely unacceptable” and a “disgrace for Georgians”.
The disturbance feeds into tensions that have seen lawmakers in the Russian parliament discussing curbed imports of Georgian wine and mineral water, and banning money transfers between the two countries.
“There is constant provoking of a conflict with Russia,” said parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.
A ban on flights between the two countries decreed by Putin last month went into effect Monday. It was bound to affect the summer flow of tourists to Georgia’s Black Sea resorts, traditionally popular among Russians seeking seaside sun.