Georgia refuses entry to former Ukrainian convicts trying to leave Russia

The Border Guard of Georgia refused entry to seven former convicts from Ukraine who were previously forcibly displaced to Russia, Russian independent media outlet Meduza and Georgian Paper Kartuli reported on Wednesday, citing the Volunteers Tbilisi organisation.

The former convicts attempted to cross the Russo-Georgian border on 11 October, planning on eventually leaving for Ukraine, although only four of the group have Ukrainian passports with them. Forced to sleep on the floor at the Georgian border checkpoint, the men addressed the Ukrainian embassy in Tbilisi, the United Nations, and the European Court of Human Rights, but received no help.

Photo: Volunteers Tbilisi

Photo: Volunteers Tbilisi

The former convicts revealed that they had served their time in Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine that was occupied by Russia early into the invasion. When the Russian military withdrew from Kherson in November 2022, the seven men were transported to a deportation facility in Russia’s city of Volgograd and were handed bans on entering Russia, valid until 2030. They also said around 1,700 Ukrainian convicts were forcibly transferred to Russia after the invasion started.

The men have been sleeping on the floor at the Georgian border checkpoint for two weeks so far; the volunteers bring them food and water. One of the men slit his wrists in an act of protest and received medical treatment.

Another group of five former convicts, also displaced to Russia during the country’s withdrawal from Kherson, was refused entry to Georgia in August. One more individual who was never a convict but spent time in a Russian filtration camp was also banned from entering the South Caucasian country, according to Aidana Fedosik of the Unmode organisation helping Kherson prisoners. The six men spent ten days at the border checkpoint before they were allowed into Georgia.

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