Staunton, Mar. 21 – More than 20,000 Russian nationals arrived in Georgia in the first two weeks after Putin began his war in Ukraine and broader crackdown at home. Many Georgians are alarmed because Moscow has used the presence of Russians as a pretext for intervention in the past and so want new and tighter immigration rules.
Georgia is one of the countries that Russian citizens can enter with few restrictions and so has been a prime destination for those fleeing their own country at war. Armenia is another, and there some 5,000 Russian citizens have been arriving each day. Not surprisingly, some Georgians are worried about what this influx will mean.
The Datablog agency has surveyed Georgians about how they feel concerning this new Russian emigration (oc-media.org/features/datablog-georgians-want-immigration-restrictions-for-russians/ reposted at crrc-caucasus.blogspot.com/2022/03/georgians-want-immigration-restrictions.html).
According to its poll, 59 percent of Georgian citizens favor the introduction of new immigration restrictions, with only 31 percent opposed to such a move. Young people were significantly more in favor of that than their elders, and ethnic minorities in Georgia significantly less than Georgians.
Perhaps most important, 65 percent of the supporters of opposition parties backed the idea of new restrictions, while only 43 percent of those who identified as supporters of the ruling party favored such a move. That probably makes it unlikely that any restrictions will be imposed in the near term.
But over time, it almost certainly means that Georgia will be a way station for Russians fleeing Putin’s regime than a final destination and that most of the ethnic Russians who have gone there because of the ease of entering that Caucasian republic will be seeking to move onward to other countries.