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Entry Refusal to Dozhd Journalist Not Politically Motivated, Minister Says

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri has repudiated allegations that Russian journalist and anchor of now-suspended independent TV Dozhd (Rain) Mikhail Fishman was barred from entering Georgia over his professional background.

The Minister roughly estimated that Georgia had already allowed the entry of about a dozen other journalists of the TV network, which would make the deliberate refusal of Fishman illogical.

He stressed that if the authorities rejected Fishman “as a matter of principle,” they would have barred his colleagues from entering as well.

The Minister denied accusations that he or his deputies are giving out politically motivated orders to border control authorities in this regard.

He argued the border guards have specific criteria for making the relevant decisions, and thus Georgia has also turned back nationals of the UK, Germany or other states for failure to meet the requirements.

“I cannot imagine that there is a border guard in this world that asks the entrants whether they are from the opposition,” the Minister also noted.

The journalist of the embattled Russian TV network told Georgian-language service RFE/RL on March 6 that he was turned back by Georgian border authorities. “It is clear they did not allow me [to enter] because I am a popular journalist in Russia,” he suspected.

On March 10, another Russian journalist, David Frenkel, of the independent online media outlet Mediazona said he was refused entry at the Georgian border after some 14-hour-long wait.

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