Should Georgia close its border with Russia? Authorities and opposition on the mass exodus of Russians
Should Georgia close the border with Russia?
This situation arose after President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization on the morning of September 21 in connection with Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine.
How many Russians have entered Georgia?
Georgia has not released specific statistics on how many people have crossed this border post since September 21. So far the only official information is a message from the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Vakhtang Gomelauri, at a press conference on September 27.
He said that in recent days the flow has almost doubled, and about 10,000 people cross the border every day. Without giving more specific figures, Gomelauri denied reports by many Georgian media that 250,000 people entered the country in one week.
He also said that approximately 60% of Russian citizens who entered Georgia would go on to third countries.
North Ossetia reported that 37,000 vehicles and more than 115,000 people have crossed the Georgian-Russian border in a week. This figure was published by the Vice Prime Minister of North Ossetia, Irbek Tomaev.
Mobilization point and tanks near the border
On September 27, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia published a message about the opening of a mobile military registration and enlistment office on the Russian side right at Verkhny Lars checkpoint.
Photos are also circulating on Telegram channels showing tanks with masked men in military uniform on the Russian side of the checkpoint.
The Russian security service responded to this information saying that military equipment is needed in case Russian reservists try to break through the Georgian border by force.
The mass entry of Russian citizens has become a major topic in Georgia.
Should Georgia close the border for Russian citizens?
Arguments of those who support closing the border
Part of society believes that the uncontrolled flow of Russian citizens is a threat to the country’s security.
Also, the cost of renting apartments and real estate prices will get even higher, making the life of local residents even more expensive and difficult.
Arguments of those who believe that the border should not be closed
Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili says the situation is not dramatic.
“The entry of Russian citizens is controlled and threats are taken into account. Information is collected at checkpoints, analysis is carried out, and only after that a decision is made regarding each individual,” Khutsishvili said.
Georgian Dream MP Beka Davituliani also said that at this stage the flow of citizens arriving in Georgia from Russia is fully controlled.
The deputy also suggests that “the Russian authorities, according to widespread information, will close the border from September 28, and this issue will cease to be relevant at all.”
“Georgia helps Ukraine by accepting Russians who do not want to fight there”
This is Beka Davituliani’s opinion:
“What is the logic of not letting in those who do not want to go from Russia to the front line? This would mean allowing the Russian regime to send them to the battlefield, which means such an action would harm Ukraine. We must help Ukraine win the war, therefore if this does not infringe on our interests, we must accept those who do not want to go there,” Davituliani said.
“Soon 10% of the population of Georgia will be citizens of Russia” – opposition protest
Several opposition politicians in Georgia are pushing to close the border with Russia and introduce a visa policy for Russians.
Giorgi Vashadze, chairman of the Strategy Agmashenebeli party, is launching a corresponding petition. He also mentions a document recently signed by Putin, which clearly states that special attention will be paid to protecting the rights of the Russian population in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia and Moldova.
“They are coming to Georgia en masse. We must close the border to them immediately. An exception should be only for Georgian citizens who are in Russia. They should have the right to return home.
“There is no other solution to avoid the danger we face now. If the border is not closed, in the coming days and weeks there will be a situation where 10% of the population of Georgia will be citizens of Russia. And this is a threat to the national interests of Georgia,” Vashadze said.
Should Georgia close the border with Russia?