Russian media reported recently that regular passenger routes between Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi and Gagra in Abkhazia will be restarted on July 1.
"If ... regular sea routes are established, we will appeal to international marine organizations, which must strengthen the regulation of countries whose vessels run such illegal routes," said Irakly Taktakishvili, director of the unified transport administration at Georgia's Economic Development Ministry.
Tbilisi made the decision to close all ports in Abkhazia after the republic broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s. Navigation between Abkhazian Black Sea ports is internationally prohibited.
Alexander Keshchishchyan, deputy general director at the Olimpiya-Line carrier, confirmed Wednesday that a direct sea route would be established between Sochi and Gagra on July 1.
"Ships will be travelling to Gagra four times a day. The first ship will leave Sochi at 7:00 a.m. [03:00 GMT]," the businessman said.
Russian ships last visited Gagra in 1992. Kometa hydrofoils took passengers to Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi, twice a week in the late 1990s, but routes to Gagra never resumed. Russia re-established sea links with Batumi, the capital of Georgia's autonomous Adjaria region, in March 2008.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained in recent months, since Russia stepped up support for Abkhazia and sent more peacekeeping troops into the region. Tbilisi has accused the Kremlin of trying to annex the territory.
Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Tbilisi's claims that it is seeking to annex Abkhazia and has condemned Georgia's policy toward the rebel region, which Russia says could lead to new bloodshed.
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