Liner with Russians departs Batumi early after being heckled by angry protesters
The cruise ship Astoria Grande, carrying Russian tourists, sailed from the Georgian city of Batumi on Thursday evening, two days ahead of schedule, under pressure from local protesters.
A cruise ship carrying Russian tourists left a port in Georgia early on Thursday to the sound of angry protesters cheering their hurried departure. The Astoria Grande docked in the Black Sea port of Batumi on Thursday morning, with passengers reportedly given a day to explore the historic city.
But by evening, crowds angry about the invasion of Ukraine and some of the tourists’ comments to the press accusing Georgia of occupying the Abkhazia region gathered to protest the vessel’s presence.
Residents of Batumi chanted "Russian ship, go f**k yourself" and "Abkhazia is Georgian", and brought photographs depicting Abkhazia and the events of the August war.
Those present at the pier where Astoria Grande docked also sang the Georgian national anthem.
Batumi residents were outraged by the arrival of the ship from Russia and the comments made by Russian tourists on board. In interviews with local media outlets, those Russians claimed that Russia had not occupied Georgia, "we are still in the Soviet Union", and one of the tourists openly stated that she had visited Abkhazia, which is a violation of Georgian law.
During the rally, a Russian flag appeared in one of the ship's cabins, but it was soon removed.
An hour after the protest, the Astoria Grande finally left the port, with Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili tweeting that he was proud of the people “protesting peacefully the latest russian provocation.”
The Maritime Transport Agency of Georgia said the day before that the arrival of the Astoria Grande cruise ship was commercial. The liner is registered in the Seychelles in the name of Goodwin Shipping Limited and is not subject to international sanctions.
Source: Ukrainska Pravda