Russia closes Georgia embassy, freezes visas

MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
Associated Press

September 4, 2008

Russia closed its embassy in Georgia and halted consular operations after Georgia severed diplomatic ties following last month’s war, the Russian consul said Wednesday.

A U.S. Navy ship loaded with humanitarian aid, meanwhile, steamed through the Dardanelles on its way to Georgia — a day after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin complained that too many NATO ships were sailing the Black Sea and promised a Russian response.

The diplomatic suspension means no new applications for Russian entry visas will be accepted, a blow to Georgians who have relatives in Russia or other ties there. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians live in Russia, and many ethnic Georgians in Russia are Russian citizens.

“A break-off of diplomatic ties is an action that has a price,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in Moscow. He said the ministry is considering other measures.

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