Report: Russian Citizens Critical of their Government Face Serious Obstacles When Entering Georgia

Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) issued a report on the Legal Status of Foreigners and Racism in Georgia 2022, noting that in the reporting period, the accessibility of public information from public agencies sharply deteriorated. According to the report, Russian citizens who are critical of the Russian government and wish to flee from repression face serious obstacles while attempting to cross the Georgian border, which, in most cases, result in them being unable to enter Georgia. Ukrainian citizens also faced problems upon entering the country: “Since 2021, the government has been creating obstacles for Ukrainian public figures who wish to enter Georgia,”- reads the TDI report.

Among the key findings of the report are also the problematic policy of issuing residence permits, whereby, as the report states, the practice of unjustified refusals to issue resident permits remains a significant challenge. In most cases, the refusals are based on negative evaluations by the State Security Service. Although the authorities did not provide the TDI with statistical data, the other evidence indicates that representatives of African and Asian countries are the ones predominantly denied the residence permit “without justification”.

Compared to previous years, the report reads, the number of cases considered within the asylum procedure has doubled, along with the rate of positive decisions on granting asylum, mostly on humanitarian grounds to Ukrainian citizens.

On the racial discrimination count, the report speaks of racism against people from certain countries in public and private interactions and of the issue of correctly qualifying the crime motivated by racial intolerance. The report notes that migrants from African and Asian countries, in addition to the obstacles they face when receiving public services (entry at the border, obtaining a residence permit), often talk about discriminatory experiences in public spaces, such as obstacles created when attempting to rent an apartment, discriminatory treatment in commercial banks, etc.

Recommendations produced by the Report

One of the overarching recommendations is for the public agencies to ensure the full and accurate provision of the requested public information.

Among other, agency-specific recommendations the report produces the following ones:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia should: implement a non-discriminatory policy on allowing foreigners to enter Georgia; Produce and publicize detailed statistics of visitors crossing the Georgian border (indicating the citizenships of non-admitted persons and the grounds for non-admission); eliminate the practice of refusing to admit foreign nationals into Georgia without adequate justification; promptly, effectively and impartially investigate each crime committed on grounds of alleged racial/national intolerance, etc.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia should: ensure proper supervision of the investigation of crimes committed on the basis of racial/ethnic intolerance, in order to conduct a prompt, efficient and objective investigation; ensure that the targets of violence committed on the basis of racial/national intolerance, in cases where that basis has been properly established, are granted the status of victim in a timely manner; etc.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and the Supreme Court of Georgia, while producing statistics of crimes motivated by intolerance on the grounds of racial or ethnic discrimination, should also record these different bias motives and intolerance distinctly for each case, and collect and report this data separately, presenting it in a unified, annual statistical report.

The Public Service Development Agency should: provide reasonable justification for refusing to issue residence permits to representatives of foreign countries; Justify the use of discretionary powers granted by law when making a decision on each case; not allow discrimination based on race/ethnicity or other grounds in the process of administrative proceedings; etc.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia should make the service of issuing electronic visas available to foreigners, who due to their studies or other activities in Georgia, are frequently required to obtain a Georgian visa.

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


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