TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia on Sunday deported two Russian citizens who were planning to go to Chechnya. The two were held at Kutaisi airport and eventually sent to Moscow.
The Interior Ministry claims the reason they were deported was that they couldn’t answer questions they were asked by the border police. The deportees themselves say they were threatened.
Zhalavdi Geriev and Bekhan Gelgoev were planning to go to Chechnya from Hungary using Georgia as a transit country, because WizzAir offers cheap flights from Budapest to Kutaisi.
Gelgoev wrote on his Facebook page early on Sunday that they were stopped in the Georgian border control and told that they might be deported back to Hungary. Later he wrote that he and his friend had problems as they were detained in Kutaisi and weren’t allowed into the country.
“They threaten in whatever way they can, even saying that they will kill us,” he wrote, adding that a man named Giorgi, who didn’t say his surname, was threatening them.
Geriev wrote that he was already chained while posting the message and asked someone to call the representative of the Russian interests section at the Swiss embassy in Georgia, as they were detained without explanation.
“No protocol, no lawyer,” he wrote. “We were let out of the plane three hours later and now the same at the airport.”
He also writes that they arrived in Kutaisi from Budapest at about 4 in the morning. When a border guard saw that they were from Chechnya, he called for his boss and after that, the two were taken to a separate office.
He said a policeman from the office said it was ‘ordinary procedure to check people from Chechnya, and sometimes Dagestani and Ingush people too.’
They were told to fly back to Budapest, but the two refused. Geriev writes that his Schengen visa expired on Sunday. They were still forced onto the plane, which didn’t fly for two hours. After two hours they were forced out of the plane, and chained up for about 11 hours without explanations. Geriev writes there was no physical violence.
Late in the evening the two were deported to Moscow.
Border Service employees say the Russians were denied entry to Georgia because they couldn’t answer questions from the border guards.
In a short explanation the Interior Ministry said the two were denied entry on the basis of section 11 of the Law on foreigners and stateless persons. The section deals with not giving enough information about the purpose of the visit.
“In this case the border guard has the right not to let the person cross the border,” the ministry explained, denying that the two were threatened.
The Public Defender is now looking into the case. Meanwhile, people from Chechnya launched an online petition to Prime Minister Garibashvili asking to protect the rights of Chechens which has so far gathered more than 250 signatures.
In the statement they call on the government to reconsiders its change of policy towards North Caucasus people, especially towards Chechens.
“Changing this policy greatly affected the treatment and rights of Chechens who come to Georgia,” it reads, expressing concern for the ‘rude and illegal actions’ Geriev and Gelgoev were subjected to.
As DF Watch has reported, Chechens have said they recently started experiencing more problems at the Georgian border. The most well-known case is Saikhan Muzayev, who has been refused to leave Georgia more than a dozen times. He wanted to go to London to study.