Economy Minister Dismisses Reports of Russian Influx

Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili today addressed public concerns about the possible influx of Russian citizens due to international sanctions imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Minister Davitashvili said that some 20-25 thousand Russian nationals have entered Georgia, on par with the visitor statistics of the pre-pandemic period in 2020. He did not specify the exact timeframe within which the number was recorded, however.

The Economy Minister thus denied reports that “a large number of [Russian] people are coming to Georgia and that it entails risks.”

He also dismissed calls to impose restrictions on visitors from Russia.

“Georgia is one of the rare islands of freedom in the region,” the Economy Minister said, arguing the country has pursued liberal economic and trade policies to “attract more people for business.”

“If [Russian] people are actually running away from the regime and trying to do business in a free environment, notwithstanding their nationality… [it is important] we allow people to do business properly, legally and in accordance with the law,” the Minister added.

Recalling the previous, United National Movement administration’s decision of 2012 to waive the visa requirement for Russians, Minister Davitashvili argued Georgia back then aimed to show its democracy and openness to people “who did not want to live with the regime.”

He stressed that the GD Government shares the same goal, and ruled out the possibility to introduce a visa regime for Russian nationals.

The Minister said that with Interior Ministry’s screening process, Georgia can attain the same objective of a visa requirement anyways.

Speaking about Russian citizens possibly willing to relocate their businesses to Georgia, Minister Davitashvili noted that their activities should align with the requirements of the Georgian law and international sanctions.

He stressed that Georgian law enforcement agencies remain “vigilant” so that sanctioned people do not enter the country and that their businesses are traceable. 

According to the National Statistics Office, in the first quarter of 2019, 74.2 thousand Russian nationals visited Georgia per month on average. The same number stood at 48.8 thousand and 2.6 thousand in the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The data for the first quarter of 2022 has not been published yet.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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