According to those who were denied entry, the border guards are wary of the “place of birth” column. If there is “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian SSR” and the passport is issued by the Krasnodar division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, then sometimes they are asked to show an internal Russian passport. And if it says that the passport was issued by the department of the Federal Migration Service for the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, then the person is taken to a separate room, where they say that Crimea is occupied by Russia and they do not recognize such passports, which means that entry is denied.
However, not only Crimeans who received passports in the annexed Crimea are at risk, but also those who were simply born in it, and received a current passport while living in Russia. The fact is that the Ministry of Internal Affairs periodically writes “Crimea, Russia” in the column “place of birth”, despite the fact that the person was born before the annexation on the territory of the Ukrainian Crimea or the Ukrainian SSR.
There are also cases when a foreign passport was issued to a Russian in Russia – before the annexation of Crimea – however, despite this, the place of birth in the document is defined as "Crimea, Russia." In 2015, Lithuania refused a visa to a Russian citizen with such a document. One of The Insider's interlocutors received the same entry in a passport issued in 2021, and this was the reason for the denial of entry into Georgia. He agreed to talk about it on condition of anonymity.
“The first time I flew to Tbilisi from Istanbul on March 26,” says the source. — Passed the border without any problems. I lived there for two months, during which time I managed to open a local bank account and register an individual entrepreneur. In early June, I flew to Baku, spent a week there and flew back. Upon arrival in Tbilisi, at the passport control, as usual, I was asked to show the certificate of vaccination, but the phone was dead, I went to the outlet to charge. As far as I understand, if I had shown the certificate at the same moment, they would have let me in, because my passport had already been looked at.
Literally a couple of minutes later, a policeman calls me and asks me to go into the room with him. Another policeman is already sitting in this room with a recording device on his chest. He asks if I speak English and then asks to see my passport. He also asks me to show my internal passport. First, by mistake, I hand him my expired Russian foreign passport, then the current one, then I take out my internal passport. I see that he is surprised by the differences between the old and the new passport (my current foreign passport, issued in 2021, indicates the place of birth “Sevastopol, Russia”, and in the expired one, issued in 2011, “Sevastopol, Ukraine” )".
The source said that the purpose of the visit is tourism and business in Georgia, custom programming. In response, the border guard said that Sevastopol is not Russia, as it is written in the passport.
“I answer that I know it. He says that in connection with this they cannot accept my passport and at the moment they have decided not to let me through and will send me on the return flight. I notice that they have already let me in with this passport. He says: “Yes, but this time we have made the final decision not to let you in.” He returns my internal passport to me and keeps both foreigners. Already at 22:40 I was taken to the plane to Baku. I ask the police officer what about my passports, to which they answer that the passports will be handed over to the crew, and they will already hand them over to the Azerbaijani border guards. Accompanied by this officer, I go on board the aircraft. This is the same plane on which I flew from Baku, with the same crew. In the hands of the flight attendant, I see my passport and some paper. The document indicates the reason for the refusal to cross the border as "Other".
After landing, a crew member or an airport employee will escort me to passport control (he has my documents in his hands). He gives the passport to me right at the passport control desk and I notice that it is my old passport; I am told that no more documents were handed over.”
Further, the perplexed Azerbaijani border guards escorted the passenger to the transit zone, where they explained that without a valid passport, he could only get out to the gangway on the plane to Moscow. Upon arrival in Moscow, they drew up a protocol on an administrative offense (violation of the procedure for crossing the state border, a fine of 2,000 rubles) and for about three hours they asked why he flew away “at such a turbulent time”, they also read the correspondence in WhatsApp and looked at the photos.
“A few days later I called the Georgian Consulate at the Swiss Embassy in Moscow, described the situation to them and asked what I could do. I was told that they shouldn't have taken away my passport at all. I clarify whether this means that it was a violation of the procedure, to which they answer me, they say, they do not know what happened there. They advise me to contact the Russian Foreign Ministry so that they can find out what happened to my passport.”
The Insider is aware of three more such cases, but the "refuseniks" asked not to publish the details of their conflict with the Georgian border guards. One of these passengers was a 14-year-old girl who was turned back at the border after checking her passport and birth certificate. Another man was denied entry after he held out a passport with the place of birth "Ukrainian SSR" and a mark on the issuance of the document in the Krasnodar division. Apparently, this combination arouses additional interest <after the annexation, the Krasnodar unit code was listed in the passports of the Crimeans – The Insider> , since then the man was asked for his internal Russian passport. After that, he was not only denied entry, but also informed that he would be included in the list of people who are prohibited from entering the territory of Georgia. He was not told how long the ban would last.
Russian-Georgian political analyst and columnist Yegor Kuroptev confirmed to The Insider that they really try not to let Crimeans with Russian passports into Georgia, but he does not know anything about an official ban.
“They don’t let me in because Crimea is an illegally occupied territory and Georgia does not recognize passports issued there. What well. This practice has been around for a long time. Long before the start of the war. There are no transparent rules. Georgia lets Ukrainians in without passports, but Crimeans do not. He actively monitors and often finds fault with the Russians after the start of the war: the percentage of refusals to enter, register a business, accounts, residence permits is not small. This is war and sanctions.”
At the same time, there are cases when Georgia did not let Russian oppositionists in either. In particular, Alexei Navalny's associate Lyubov Sobol, politician Dmitry Gudkov, Pussy Riot member Olga Borisova and others could not enter the country.
According to Kuroptev, these refusals are connected with the country's unwillingness to let high-profile figures into the territory, otherwise Russian oppositionists can find refuge in Georgia.
“After the start of the war, Georgia, in principle, became stricter about the entry of Russians,” says Kuroptev. – These are not only oppositionists, but also citizens of Russia as a whole. The problem is that there are no transparent entry rules. If you have a visa to Europe, then most likely you will come. And in Georgia lately it is not clear what documents can be a guarantee. I would probably say none. Regarding the opposition from Russia: hundreds of people freely entered Georgia before the war, and even more so after. Now Georgia is a safe home for a large number of activists, journalists, and human rights activists. There are almost no cases when oppositionists from Russia were not allowed into Georgia at all and no explanations helped. Their units. Basically, they are connected with the unwillingness to have too resonant figures on the territory of the country. But at the same time, people with varying degrees of threats and persecution in Russia live in Georgia in peace. They travel, they travel. Activists are often stopped at the borders and asked a lot of questions. Either they let you in, or in some cases they refuse, and then additional explanations are required. There were bans on Sobol, Gudkov, and several journalists. Otherwise, Georgia is one of the main centers where activists who left Russia under threat live.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia did not respond to the sent requests at the time of publication of the material.