Friday, October 06, 2006

Georgians deported from Russia

A group of 130 Georgians living in Russia were deported after Russian officials rounded up them up and put them on a plane bound for Georgia. Many were accused of immigration offenses and criminal activity, while others were simply told they were no longer welcome in Russia.

The deportations represent the latest in a series of shots exchanged by the two sparring nations. Tensions between the two countries increased last week after Georgia arrested four Russian army officers and charged them with spying on military installations. The soldiers were soon released, but this did not stop Moscow from staging a retaliation.

From the Times Online:

On the day that Tbilisi released the Russian soldiers, Moscow severed all transport and postal links with Georgia, and has also stopped issuing visas to Georgians, banned key Georgian exports to Russia and raided Georgian businesses in Moscow.

Yuri Chaika, Russia’s Prosecutor-General, insisted that its retaliatory measures were "being carried out within the framework of the law". The Kremlin has demanded that Tbilisi to show a "more constructive attitude" before it will consider abandoning its sanctions.

Russia's deportation move came amid a recent upsurge in nationalist sentiment; Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed a desire to protect the "interests of Russia's producers and population, the native Russian populations."

For more, see the BBC News story, "Georgia deportees describe ordeal", and The Economist's, "Cold war, hot tempers".