Georgian TV presenter’s anti-Putin tirade angers Russia

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Giorgi Gabunia - pic from official Rustavi-2 websiteImage copyright
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Image caption

Giorgi Gabunia is featured on the official Rustavi-2 website

The Kremlin has condemned a Georgian TV presenter’s crude tirade against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “we consider these insults totally unacceptable”. Rustavi-2 is Georgia’s main commercial TV channel.

Presenter Giorgi Gabunia used offensive language in a Russian-language message to Mr Putin on Sunday. Rustavi-2 has apologised for his outburst.

Separately, Russia has halted direct flights to Georgia amid worsening ties.

Gabunia’s attack on President Putin comes amid a new deterioration of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.

After crude abuse directed at Mr Putin, Gabunia added sarcastically: “Ah, your mummy’s dead, what a pity.” He also called Russians slaves and told them to get out of Georgia.

Georgia’s Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, deplored Gabunia’s outburst, saying “this is a war by provocateurs against their country, a dirty and disgusting game with the security of the state and citizens”.

Last month, protesters in Tbilisi tried to storm parliament, furious that a Russian MP had given a speech from the speaker’s chair.

The MP, Sergei Gavrilov, left Georgia in a hurry, before clashes broke out in which 240 people were hurt.

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Media captionRiot police blocked crowds storming Georgia’s parliament last month

President Putin responded by ordering a temporary ban on flights to Georgia from 8 July, restrictions on Georgian wine imports, and advising Russian tourists to come home.

Many Georgians are angry that Russia is maintaining a heavy military presence in two regions which broke away from Georgia in a short war in 2008: South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Condemning Gabunia in Moscow on Monday, Mr Peskov told reporters: “We and you have seen a sharpening of Russophobic attacks in recent days.

“All this is simply a consequence of the [Georgian] state’s reluctance or inability to restrain extremist youths.”

In a statement on its website, Rustavi-2 said Gabunia violated “the high standards established by our channel”.