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Minister: Over 12,000 Russians Stayed in Georgia Since Ukraine War

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said today during the parliamentary ministerial hour that 12,638 Russian citizens have arrived and stayed in Georgia since Russia began war in Ukraine.

According to Minister Gomelauri, between February 24 and March 16, 30,439 Russian nationals arrived in Georgia, of which 17,801 left and 12,638 stayed.

The latter figure is fourteen times higher compared to the corresponding data from 2019 — before the pandemic disrupted travels — when 64,008 Russians entered Georgia, while 63,097 left and 911 stayed.

Minister Gomelauri said that many of the Russians remaining in the country are in the towns of Bakuriani or Gudauiri, popular winter resorts in Georgia, or Tbilisi, the capital.

“They will probably leave,” he argued.

Also, the Minister said the number of Belarus nationals arriving in Georgia between February 24 and March 16 increased tenfold, from 1,678 to 15,777, compared to the same period in 2019.

The chief policeman also mentioned that the authorities have “tightened control” at border checkpoints, but dismissed the possibility of full control over every single entrance into Georgia.

Worries have mounted recently in Georgia over reports that thousands of Russian citizens are pondering to move to Georgia as Russia gets hit by heavy international sanctions over the unprovoked war against Ukraine.

Previously, on March 8, the State Security Service of Georgia denied the reports of unchecked influx as “deliberate disinformation.” It said the number of entrants did not exceed that of the same period in previous years, but did not mention the number of visitors choosing to stay in Georgia.

On March 7, Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili similarly argued that visitor data was on par with that of the pre-pandemic period.

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