To yesterday’s demands of the Georgian opposition regarding the citizens of Russia, new ones have been added today. In a special briefing, the Lelo party proposed not only to introduce a visa regime, but also to limit the sale of real estate and land to Russians, putting their business activities under strict control, writes Ekho Kavkaza.
Several initiatives were presented at Lelo’s briefing. The party demanded that the country’s Interior Ministry publish official statistics: how many Russian citizens crossed the border, how many of them applied for a residence permit, how many registered a business, etc.
“The situation in the country is much more complicated than it seems at first glance. It is urgent to take concrete measures so that the state begins to control the flow of visitors to Georgia, especially from the occupying country. Lelo takes the initiative to introduce the following restrictions for citizens of the Russian Federation and those countries that are involved in military aggression against Ukraine. The first is to introduce a temporary visa regime. The second is to limit and control as much as possible the purchase of land and other real estate in Georgia, as well as the question of the right to reside. And the third is to put the registration of companies under strict control,” Salome Samadashvili, one of the party’s leaders, told a briefing.
Members of Anna Dolidze’s “For the People” party consider that the issue has been delayed too long. The participants of the action performance in front of the parliament building demanded a moratorium on the purchase of real estate for Russian citizens. A legislative proposal on this issue was presented by the party to parliament in April, although it has not been discussed so far. According to Sakrebulo MP Nini Tsuladze, from January 10 to July 18, 2022, the property of 3,389 citizens of the Russian Federation was registered for 3,040 real estate objects.
“In fact, this is an economic expansion on the part of Russia. The Parliament of Georgia has not yet found the time to respond to the legislative initiative that we have presented,” said the parliamentarian.
Georgian Dream regarded this approach as banal xenophobia. According to party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, the authorities will crack down on opponents in this matter.
“This is a deliberate and absolutely disgraceful xenophobic campaign that does not conform to any norm or standard. If someone wants to be European, they cannot show it with xenophobia. I want to remind you that the previous authorities introduced a visa-free regime for Russian citizens after the August war, and today the same people ask us to introduce restrictions. This is xenophobia,” Kobakhidze repeated.
It should be noted that today’s statements by the ruling party on this issue contained a variety of arguments. For example, the leader of the parliamentary faction, Mamuka Mdinaradze, considered that the opposition needed the anti-Russian campaign to disrupt the successful tourist season. According to parliamentarian Giorgi Tsagareishvili, the open doors of Georgia made it possible to extricate tens of thousands of refugees from Russia from the clutches of the authoritarian regime. And according to Anri Okhanashvili, chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, the introduction of a visa regime would amount to a declaration of war on Russia.
Part of the opposition believes that the visa issue requires a more thoughtful approach.
“I don’t think the solution lies only in the visa regime. First of all, it is necessary to raise the issue of permanent residence. It is not normal that Russians who cross the border have the right to stay without permission for a year. I think these terms should be reconsidered. It is necessary to keep track of those who move here to live and acquire properties for commercial use. Our conversations are not a manifestation of xenophobia. Society has accumulated questions that often turn into attacks, and this must be answered. This is the duty of the authorities,” says Republican leader Khatuna Samnidze.
According to the vice president of the New Economic School – Georgia, Gia Jandieri, the abolition of the visa regime with the occupying country by the previous authorities was a mistake. However, Georgian Dream’s attitude to such a sensitive issue is no less wrong.
“For a comprehensive economic assessment of the danger of uncontrolled migration of Russian citizens, comprehensive statistics are needed, which are not available. But from a purely moral point of view, Russia is officially an occupant of Georgian ancestral lands, and to say that the registration of thousands of companies from this country is good for us from an economic point of view, I think is wrong. According to my logic, there should be no additional concessions for the citizens of this country, they should be subject to the same restrictions that Russia has imposed against us, “says the expert.
Meanwhile, a petition appeared on the network demanding the introduction of a visa regime for citizens of Russia and Belarus, according to which citizens of these countries will not be able to stay in Georgia for more than three months during the year, which ensures that you can visit Georgia only for tourist purposes. In a few hours, it was signed by about 15 thousand people.
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