TBILISI, DFWatch–The government in Georgia denies reports that the consular office for Russian interests in Tbilisi is issuing Russian passports.
Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani said this information is false.
Georgia and Russia do not have diplomatic relations since the war in August 2008. Georgia allows Russians to enter without a visa, while Georgians can obtain a Russian visa at the Swiss embassy’s section for Russian interests, which is located in the building of the former Russian embassy in Tbilisi.
For the last few days, there have been reports in the media about Russian passports being distributed to people who speak Russian.
In addition, Russian media writes that the Russian Duma has passed a law about how to obtain Russian citizenship through a simplified procedure if a person can speak Russian.
People in Georgia are concerned about these reports, but official Tbilisi denies that it has any truth.
Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russian Talks, says that the reports are overblown. He told journalists after the government’s Friday session that reports about rows of people at the former Russian embassy, has been checked but not confirmed.
He said the Russian Duma passed an amendment, by which citizens of the former Soviet Union will be able to get Russian citizenship through simplified rules.
“But this is still under review and we don’t know what the final form of the law will be. It may have influence on Georgia in the future, but now we cannot speak of any special situation, but I am repeating that this information still needs to be checked,” he said.
Zalkaliani said the Foreign Ministry has also checked whether it is true that Russian passports are issued to the population in Samtske-Javakheti, a region south in Georgia. The ministry asked the Swiss embassy to check this information.
“We received a response that this information is exaggerated and no such thing is happening,” Zalkaliani said.
He said the government has in mind the processes which are taking place in Russian Duma, which reviews amendment about the rules for obtaining Russian citizenship. He said not much is known about this yet, and it is important that Georgian lawyers study the draft.
“The draft is not yet approved and we don’t know what its final form will be, that is why it needs to be studied by lawyers,” he added.