On March 9, a web portal Georgia and the World released an article titled “It is not a threat. It is a warning for the U.S. puppies,” which reads that out of 840 000 Georgian nationals who have left the country, 450 000 live in the Russian Federation. The author of the article claims that he does not remember the fact when Russia had deported Georgian nationals from the country.
The fact is that in autumn 2006, the Russian Government staged mass raids against ethnic Georgians that resulted in the expulsion of over 4 600 Georgian nationals from Russia. Four Georgian nationals died in the process of mass raids and deportation. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in 2014 that Russia violated a number of provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights, namely on prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens; right to liberty and security; right to a fair trial; inhuman and degrading treatment and right to an effective remedy.
Mass deportation of Georgians in 2006
In October 2006, the Russian authorities launched mass raids in the country during which Georgian nationals were subject to degrading treatment and human rights violations. The raids were preceded by the arrest of four Russian officers in Tbilisi on espionage charges and aggravation of relations between the two countries.
Over 4 600 Georgian nationals were expelled from Russia as a result of mass raids staged in 2006. A part of them arrived in Tbilisi on a Russian Emergency Ministry cargo plane, which did not meet even minimum standards of passenger transportation.
Mass deportation of ethnic Georgians from Moscow, 2006. Sources: The Voice of America, Agenda.ge
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on July 3, 2014 that the arrest, detention and collective expulsion of Georgian nationals from Russia in the autumn of 2006 violated the European Convention of Human Rights and that during the arrest and detention Georgian nationals were subject to inhuman or degrading treatment. Tbilisi lodged an interstate application to the Strasbourg-based court demanding Moscow to reimburse EUR 70.3 million that was denounced by Russian Deputy Justice Minister Georgy Matiushkin as “a whim” of the Georgian side.
Georgian nationals who died during the raids and deportation
Tengiz Togonidze, 48, was detained in St. Petersburg on October 3 and put in temporary custody pending deportation, where he was not provided with sufficient medical care and fresh air. Togonidze reportedly died of an asthma attack on October 17.
Manana Jabelia, 51, died in a detention center in Moscow on December 2, 2006, pending deportation. She died of a heart attack. Earlier the Russian Court of Appeals said that Jabelia had not violated her residence permit, but she was still held in pretrial custody.
On October 20, 2006, Revaz Berulava, who was an IDP from Abkhazia and who temporarily lived in Moscow, was repatriated to Georgia via Yerevan. Berulava was refused medical treatment in Moscow because of his nationality and was admitted to hospital only after his wife introduced herself as an Abkhaz. Revaz Berulava died because of late treatment complications.
Zurab Muzashvili was legally staying in the city of Engels of Russia’s Saratov District, when he voluntarily applied to the local militsiya requesting deportation due to expiration of his visa permit. His passport was confiscated; he was detained and expelled from Russia upon the court ruling. He stayed in temporary detention cell during a week. Zurab Muzashvili, who suffered from tuberculosis, submitted a relevant certificate to the militsiya and immigration service, but in vain. Muzashvili, who suffered severe pains in his stomach, was put in the temporary detention center as his hospitalization was deemed inexpedient. Zurab Muzashvili died on January 25, 2006.
Lia Shioshvili, an eight month pregnant Georgian woman, was detained in October 2006 together with her four small children and expelled to Dagestan by train. Shioshvili had to travel in inhuman conditions; her state of health aggravated significantly. Upon her return to Georgia, Shioshvili gave birth to a dead baby on December 15. The ECHR ruled in favor of Lia Shioshvili in December 2016 over the case Shioshvili and Others v. Russia and said that Russia was to pay Shioshvili EUR 30 000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
Photo: Lia Shioshvili and her children. Source: The Voice of America
Prepared by Dali Kurdadze