Prominent Ukrainian journalists Dmitry Gordon and Alesia Batsman, as well as lawyer Evgen Grushovets have reported they were not allowed to enter Georgia and were turned back from Tbilisi airport.
Founder of newspaper Gordon Boulevard and online news outlet Gordonua.com, Dmitry Gordon said today on social media platform Telegram that authorities at Tbilisi International Airport did not allow him to enter Georgia, after an hour of waiting at passport control.
Gordon linked the refusal with his plans to meet the jailed ex-President, a citizen of Ukraine, in prison, arguing the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had addressed the Georgian Foreign Ministry beforehand with a request to organize the visit.
“All that has happened is an international scandal and a shame for the Georgian authorities,” Gordon said.
Alesia Batsman, Editor-in-Chief at the online media outlet who accompanied Gordon on the trip called the rejection a “shameful and cowardly decision of the Georgian authorities because of our protection and support of Mikheil Saakashvili.”
She said the two journalists had hoped to record an interview with jailed Saakashvili, on a hunger strike since his arrest on October 1.
“What are you afraid of, what are you hiding?” Batsman addressed the Georgian Government in a Facebook post.
A Ukrainian lawyer arriving in Tbilisi to meet jailed Saakashvili, Evgen Grushovets, claimed late on October 26 that the authorities at Tbilisi International Airport seized his passport and deported him back to Ukraine without his papers.
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the reports with Civil.ge.
In Tbilisi, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmyla Denisova told reporters on October 27 she was delayed and questioned for forty minutes about the purpose of her trip to Georgia upon entering the country.
Media Advocacy Coalition calls for clarifications
Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting over a dozen local CSOs, called on the Georgian Government to “immediately clarify the reasons” for denying the entry of Gordon and Batsman into the country. The group also urged the authorities to respect the rights of journalists to carry out their professional duties.