Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning flights between Russia and Georgia with effect from July 8 onwards. Anti-Russian protests broke out in Tbilisi last week after Russian parliamentarians visited Georgia for a meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. The body was established by the Greek parliament in 1993 to foster relations between Christian Orthodox lawmakers.

However, according to Tass, the session was cancelled after Georgian MPs refused to allow Russian deputy Sergey Gavrilov to take to the podium. Thousands of protestors then gathered outside the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi on Thursday, June 20, where they denounced Russia as an aggressor state. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili later called Russia "an enemy and an occupier," and also accused it of being behind a "fifth column" in her country.

Russia and Georgia fought a 5-day war in 2008 over the regions of the border regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Following a cease-fire, Russian military bases were established in both of the self-proclaimed republics which, despite Russian occupation, remain de jure Georgian territory.

Issuing a response to the protests, Russia's federal air transport agency (Rosaviatsia) said in a statement that the decision to terminate flights to Georgia was taken in order to protect Russian interests, in particular its citizens. As such, tour operators and airlines have been "advised" to cease the sale of tickets to Georgia beyond July 8 and to prepare for a mass uplift of returning nationals ahead of the cut-off date.

According to the ch-aviation routes module, Russian operators dominate the Russia-Georgia market through Aeroflot, Nordavia, Pobeda, S7 Airlines, Severstal Aircompany, Ural Airlines, and UVT aero. The only Georgian carrier to ply routes to Russia is Georgian Airways. Flights focus on Tbilisi as well as the tourist-popular towns of Batumi and Kutaisi.

In a statement issued on June 22, Georgian Airways said the ban would also affect its flights. However, passengers will still be able to travel to Moscow albeit using a stopover in Yerevan, Armenia.