Georgian Citizens Deported from Russia
‘Great Russia’ has begun sanctions against Georgia. Every individual who resides in Russia with a Georgian surname is to be deported. It does not matter what a person’s legal status is. Three planes, two of them cargo planes, have already flown [ethnic] Georgians residing in Russia to Georgia.
More then five hundred Georgians have now been deported from Russia. According to deportees, they were sent to Georgia without an opportunity to gather their belongings. “[Russian] police were visiting markets and other places where [we] Georgians work. Nobody asked us for our documents. The sole reason for the deportations was our Georgian nationality. We were arrested at our jobs and brought to police stations. We remained at these police stations for several days without an explanation from anyone. Then, the women were moved to a separate [holding area]. They treated us like animals. After several days, [the Russian authorities] told us that we would have to leave Russia and that we would not be allowed to enter Russia again. They said the reason for this decision was the antagonistic politics of [the Georgian] president,” recalled deportees.
Most of the deported Georgians were flown to Georgia by cargo planes that lacked both windows and toilets. “We spent three hours in complete darkness, praying that we would arrive in Georgia safe. We were not even allowed to take any luggage with us. After us, [the Russian authorities] began raiding schools. Parents of Georgian students were called to schools and then arrested with their children,” said Nana, who arrived in Tbilisi on October 10.
Every Georgian-owned business was closed. Even the Georgian Consulate was searched by Russian police. Any [Georgians] who were at the Consulate [at the time of the search] were also arrested. Zurab Tsereteli, a famous Georgian sculptor and a rector at the Art Academy of Moscow, also attracted the [unwanted] attention of Russian authorities. While conducting a search of the Academy’s financial records, authorities discovered several violations. Zurab Sotkilava, a famous Georgian opera singer who performs in the Bolshoi Theatre, was also investigated. In addition, Georgian professional athletes are under investigation. Elene Gedevanishvili, a Georgian figure skater who placed fifth in the 2006 European Figure Skating Championship, [was one such athlete] who experienced difficulties in Russia.
Deportees are reporting that every [Russian] police officer has a list of Georgians who should be detained. The number of ethnic murders has also increased.
Many Georgians who were deported from Russia [arrived in Georgia] without a place to live. Most of them already sold their flats in Georgia in order to immigrate and work in Russia. They have little money and hope that someone [in Georgia] will help them. Most Georgians living in Russia were supporting several family members who stayed behind in Georgia. Now, nobody will take care of [those who are dependent on this additional income].
Irakli Chogovadze, the Minister of Economic Development, greeted deported Georgians at the [Tbilisi] airport and promised them assistance. He proposed that they submit their CVs to his Ministry and that the government will employee them. The Georgian government also intends to bring suit against Russia in the European Parliament and to ask for compensation on behalf of the deportees. “We will appeal to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, [Germany]. Animals are transported in cargo planes, not people! We have nothing against Russians. People with no connections to Georgia except Georgian surnames are being pursued. [If that is so,] I am ready to grant [these Russian citizens] Georgian citizenship,” said [the President of Georgia], Mikheil Saakashvili.
Russia has violated several articles of the Human Rights Declaration. Among these are International Act on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Act on Civil and Political Rights, the European and International Conventions on Human Rights and on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.
According to David Bakradze, the head of European Integration Committee, “Deportation is a legal instrument, but it should be used legally. Serious violations were discovered while Georgians were being deported from Russia. Many of them had visas, and there were no legal grounds for their deportations. Russia has a right to combat illegal migration. However, this fight should not be based on ethnical grounds. Moreover, every individual, including criminals, has a right to ask for humane treatment. Georgians were treated inhumanly and degradingly. This was a direct violation of European Human Rights Convention. Our citizens have right to appeal to the European Court and demand compensation [for this breach of their rights].”
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