Russia ratchets up the tension in Georgia

Despite Georgia’s decision to hand over four Russian’s suspected of espionage, Russia isn’t in any mood to let up the pressure on its southern neighbour

Russia’s migration service said on Thursday that the suspension of visas to Georgians would be extended, and that 180-day visas held by Georgians already in Russia would be cut to 90 days.

Russian parliamentarians are also expected to examine a bill this week that would prevent Georgians living in Russia from making bank transfers to relatives back home.

Estimates vary but it is believed that at least one million Georgians currently live in Russia. Many Georgian families depend on the remittances they send home.

I’m sure enterprising ‘businessmen’ will adapt very quickly to these new money transfer rules, by simply sending the money via a third country, but nonetheless, this represents a significant escalation of tensions. 

Georgia, in my opinion, handled the whole spying affair badly, but it’s time for Russia to take a step back, and consider the long term impact of its actions as well.  The Russian government must learn to be as gracious in victory as it is ungracious in defeat. 

Earlier this week, Georgia looked rather foolish, having done little more than embarras itself.  Today, it looks like a victim of Russian bullying again.