“We do not serve the occupants!”. Russians are not seen well in Georgia, they have to prove that they do not support Putin


“The world should stop Russian aggression,” reads a poster on the wall of a bar in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, the South Caucasus country that has become home to tens of thousands of Russian émigrés since the invasion of Ukraine.

“Russians coming to Georgia should never forget that they are coming to a place that is under attack from their country,” said Data Lapauri, owner of the Dedaena bar.

For many Georgians, the Kremlin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine has revived painful memories of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war and Moscow’s support for Georgia’s separatist regions. At the same time, a wave of anti-war Russians, who fear conscription, the economic crisis and a political crackdown at home, have become a notable presence on the streets of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, notes “The Moscow Times”.

While most Georgians have no problem with the new Russian community, some tensions continue to emerge as the six-month-old war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending.

As a sign of doubt, some Georgian business owners have started asking Russian customers to confirm that they do not support President Vladimir Putin – verbally or in writing.

“The world should stop Russian aggression,” reads a poster on the wall of a bar in the South Caucasus nation, which has become home to tens of thousands of Russian immigrants since the invasion of Ukraine.

“Visa Policy”

Dedaena is one of the units that implemented what they call the “visa policy”. “Russians coming to Georgia should never forget that they are coming to a place that is being attacked by their country,” said Data Lapauri, owner of the Dedaena bar.

Russian citizens who want to enter the bar must fill out an online form and agree to a list of statements, such as “I condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine.” Visitors are also asked not to speak Russian or “engage in political discussions while drunk,” according to the online form.

“It is extreme politics to say that people of a certain nationality are not welcome here. But I don’t want to have someone in the bar I own who supports the war in Ukraine and voted for Putin. We don’t want to serve the occupiers,” Lapauri told The Moscow Times, sitting on the bar’s terrace on a busy Thursday evening.

Other cases where Georgian companies have made special requests of Russians include the Bank of Georgia, which briefly asked Russians in March to sign a form saying they “condemn Russia’s aggression in Georgia and Ukraine.” The most famous night club in Georgia, Bassiani, allegedly prevented Russians from entering because of their nationality.

Dedaena, named after a famous 19th-century book for children learning Georgian, decided to implement the “visa policy” because of the “increasing number of cases of inappropriate behavior by Russian tourists”, Lapauri said , adding that it was “a way to protect the bar and keep it friendly and enjoyable”.

“It happens to us quite often that people from Russia ask us for services and menus in Russian or to pay in rubles. Sometimes aggressively. As if it were something that belonged to them. I would certainly have preferred not to introduce the visa policy, because I don’t think it’s good, but we were forced to do it,” said the bar owner.

Russians believe they are being discriminated against

However, many Russians living in Georgia say such measures violate their rights. “I think such measures are unacceptable, they go against international laws – any discrimination based on nationality or political views is unacceptable,” Uliana Kalinina, a Russian citizen who moved to Georgia in 2017, told The Moscow Times. “It’s an incitement to hate in the country we all live in,” she said.

There is also evidence that Georgian border police are increasingly denying entry to prominent Russian journalists and activists when they try to enter the country.

Opponents of the restrictions on Russian citizens argue that targeting Russians only increases tensions with locals.

“Most of the people who moved to Georgia do not support Putin’s politics and the war – they are the ones who go to protests and loudly express their political views,” said a Russian expatriate with Georgian roots.


Source: Breaking News – Cele mai importante stiri – Ziare.com by ziare.com.

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