The film crew of a Russian state-run television channel was attacked in Georgia’s capital on Saturday amid a flare-up in tensions between the two countries, Russian media have reported.
Tensions between Russia and Georgia were ignited after a Russian lawmaker’s speech in the Georgian parliament set off mass protests in Tbilisi on Thursday. Demonstrators violently clashed with police, resulting in more than 200 people injured, including foreign and local journalists.
Rossia 24 correspondent Stanislav Bernwald had been interviewing the owner of a travel agency in Tbilisi about President Vladimir Putin’s suspension of Russian flights to Georgia.
Video shows two men attempt to start a fight with Bernwald and his cameraman before the travel agency owner’s spouse steps in and tells the attackers to leave. The attackers spat in the film crew’s faces and shouted nationalist slogans, Bernwald said.
Later, a man can be seen kicking another man on the ground, but it’s not clear who the individuals are.
In a statement Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that “aggressive-minded radical individuals” were behind the attack attempt and demanded that Georgian authorities ensure the safety of both Russian journalists and citizens in the country.
Putin on Friday banned Russian airlines from flying to Georgia and ordered the government to ensure the safe return of Russian citizens in the country. On Saturday, Russia also banned Georgian airlines from flying to Russia.
Russia and Georgia have not had full diplomatic relations since a 2008 war between the two countries.