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Putin blocks Russian parliament plans for Georgia sanctions

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin makes comments on the country's bilateral relations with Georgia as he attends the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin makes comments on the country's bilateral relations with Georgia as he attends the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) -
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Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday rejected a parliamentary call to impose sanctions on Georgia amid a wave of anti-Kremlin protests in the former Soviet republic.

Speaking shortly after MPs unanimously backed a resolution urging the government to draw up sanctions on Georgia for his approval, Putin said patching up strained relations was more important than reacting to provocations by "scumbags".

"For the sake of restoring full ties, I would not do anything to complicate our relations," Putin said during a visit to the city of Yekaterinburg.

"As for various types of sanctions on Georgia, I would mainly not do it out of respect for the Georgian people."

Moscow has complained in recent weeks about anti-Russian protests in Georgia and on Monday condemned an obscenity-laden tirade against Putin on a Georgian TV station, which it blamed on radical political forces.

What did Russian MPs suggest?

The lower house of parliament, the Duma, earlier on Tuesday suggested banning imports of Georgian wine and mineral water and halting financial remittances back home by Georgians working in Russia, measures that could have badly hurt Georgia's economy.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili urged Russia not to impose sanctions, warning it would only serve to further aggravate the situation and play into the hands of people Moscow regarded as extremists.

Citing risks to its citizens, the Kremlin has responded to recent events by suspending passenger flights, a move that threatens to hurt Georgia's tourist industry since over 1 million Russians visit each year.

The Georgian currency, the lari, slipped to a record low of 2.87 against the dollar on Tuesday, taking its year-to-date loss to 7.3%.

How did protests start?

Protests erupted two weeks ago in Tbilisi over a visit by a Russian lawmaker, with many demonstrators saying they were angry about the continued presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil.

The small nation, an ally of the United States, fought and lost a short war against Russia in 2008.

The countries have not had diplomatic ties since, and Russia went on to recognise the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where Russian troops are now garrisoned.

READ MORE: Thousands protest in Georgia calling for an end to Russian occupation

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