Georgia does not allow Russian opposition figures to enter the country

In Georgia, the cases in which Kremlin critics are denied entry are increasing. On Monday it hit the Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov. He was a member of the Duma from 2011 to 2016 and was the last member of the lower house to dare to object. When the Muscovite was preparing a new Duma candidacy last year, fraud proceedings were opened about missed rent payments by Gudkov’s aunt, who was also accused. After raids, two days in police custody and threats of imprisonment, Gudkov fled to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. It serves as an exile for many Russians and Belarusians who are persecuted in their home countries. This also applies to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, where some of Gudkov’s comrades-in-arms now live. You can communicate in Russian, the cost of living is not too high, and like Ukraine, Georgia is aspiring to join the EU and NATO. This is supported by a large majority of the residents of the South Caucasus state, whose breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are controlled by Russia.

Gudkov said he wanted to meet activists and diplomats in Georgia. At passport control, however, he was banned from entering the country without giving reasons, and this was decided “at state level”. He had to return to Kiev on the next flight. Gudkow suspected political reasons for the decision. He told the Sova news portal that whether Georgia would become a less safe place for emigrants would depend on the official justification for his deportation; he suggested that Georgia “does not want to quarrel with Russia”. The Ministry of the Interior referred to the portal “” only on “reasons provided for by law” for the ban.

The opposition accuses the government of the “Georgian Dream” of de facto proximity to Russia, where the founder of the ruling party, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, got rich, as well as electoral fraud and the monopoly of power. Entry practice raises new questions. In August last year, the Russian Lyubov Sobol, a comrade-in-arms of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, was turned away at the border control, also without explanation. Sobol, who had recently fled from criminal prosecution in Russia (Moscow has even persecuted her as a “terrorist” since the end of January), suspected she was “giving in to Putin”. In late October, it hit Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon and his wife, who suspected it was “revenge” for supporting imprisoned former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivanishvili’s nemesis.

Dmitry Gudkov indicated that, with a view to dealing with Sobol and Gordon, he had previously asked politicians from the government camp whether they would let him into the country. There will be no problems, he was told “on various channels”. Gudkov said he now wants to understand whether it is still safe for his friends “to come to Georgia and stay there if such behavior is shown towards opposition figures”.

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