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Yet another uncivilized step

By M. Alkhazashvili
Friday, September 5
Whilst breaking diplomatic relations with Moscow because it has occupied our sovereign country’s territory and recognized its breakaway regions, Tbilisi has still tried to preserve consular services so as not to harm people’s interests. But even here the Kremlin’s behaviour goes beyond the norms of civilized conduct. It has decided to stop issuing visas to ordinary civilians.

“These are the consequences [of Georgia’s decision],” says Alexander Nesterenko, representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nesterenko hereby assures us that Moscow does not want to create problems for Georgian citizens while at the same time putting the blame for Russia’s inappropriate actions on Tbilisi.

According to reliable estimates there are around one million Georgians in Russia today. Of this total, around 300,000 are illegal immigrants as they have no permit to work there. Russia will surely start deporting these. Life will also be made miserable for the rest of the Georgian population even if they are legally in Russia. This “democratic” country is notorious for its chauvinistic conduct.

Vladimir Khomeriki, chairman of the Moscow-based foundation Georgian and Russian Unity has told the Vedomost newspaper that Georgians transfer to their homeland up to USD 2 billion annually from Russia. How accurate this information is we could not check, but the figure is impressive. Khomeriki however now predicts that the business environment for Georgians will deteriorate not only in Russia but also in other CIS countries.

Russia is irritated, probably by the fact that Georgia initiated the breaking off of diplomatic relations. But did it expect to maintain such relations whilst violating the territorial integrity of a sovereign country?

It appears however that any commercial problems Georgians will have in Russia are about to be resolved in a simple way. Europe is now offering the more attractive option of simplifying its own visa regime and giving Georgians extra benefits if they conduct business there.