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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Warns Against Travelling to Georgia

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued a statement recommending that Russians refrain from travel to Georgia because of rising crime, especially hostage-takings.

The statement came amid growing tension between Russia and its small, southern neighbor. Russia last month began requiring visas of Georgians, a costly and inconvenient procedure that many Georgian farmers and traders say stifles their business with Russia.

Russia says it introduced the visa regime for security reasons, to block the movement of criminals, rebels and weapons across the border with Georgia, the only foreign country that borders on separatist Chechnya. The Kremlin accuses Georgia of failing to strengthen the mountainous, 80-kilometer border.

Russia and Georgia also have failed to reach agreement on closing of the final two Russian military bases in Georgia, and the Kremlin has uneasily regarded President Eduard Shevardnadze's statements about interest in NATO.

Kidnappings are frequent in Georgia and foreigners often are the target. The whereabouts of two Spaniards seized Nov. 30 outside the capital Tbilisi remain unknown.

"In this connection, the Russian Foreign Ministry recommends that citizens of the Russian Federation refrain from trips to Georgia and that all Russian citizens on the territory of this country take reasonable security measures and limit their movement after dark," the statement said.