Protest in Georgia as migration from Russia doubles since draft




  • In World
  • 2022-09-28 14:21:27Z
  • By AFP
 

Georgia opposition supporters on Wednesday rallied against "uncontrolled" migration from Russia, which has nearly doubled since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a mobilisation for the war in Ukraine.

Waving Georgian and Ukrainian flags, dozens of protesters gathered near the Kazbegi border crossing point, which has seen a massive inflow of Russian nationals since the partial mobilisation of civilians was announced last week.

Ukrainian national anthem and folk songs were playing at the rally, organised by a pro-Western opposition party, Droa.

Demonstrators held placards that read "Putin is a terrorist" and "Russia kills."

"Uncontrolled, unprecedented influx of Russians poses security risks to Georgia," one of the rally organisers, Tamar Gvinianidze, told AFP.

"The border must be closed immediately as the Georgian government has proved incapable of handling the migration crisis," she added.

She said a bigger mass rally to demand the closure of Georgia's border with Russia will be held in the coming days outside the border checkpoint.

On Wednesday, authorities in the Russian region of North Ossetia that borders Georgia ordered a restriction of car travel to the republic.

Putin's announcement has sparked a new wave of exodus to the tiny Black Sea nation, which has been a major destination for Russians fleeing since the war began on February 24.

On Tuesday, Georgia's interior minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said the number of Russians entering Georgia daily has nearly doubled since September 21, reaching some 10,000 people a day.

Over the first four months of the war, nearly 50,000 Russians fled to Georgia, where they can stay for a year without a visa, the country's statistics office said in June.

Some 40,000 more fled over the same period to Armenia, another top destination that also has no visa requirement for Russians.

The influx of Russians has sparked mixed feelings in a country where painful memories of Russia's 2008 invasion are still fresh.

The five-day war left Georgia partitioned, with Russian troops stationed in its two separatist regions which the Kremlin recognised as independent after the EU brokered a ceasefire.

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