Lawyer Maksim Olenichev, who was declared a “foreign agent” in Russia, was not allowed into Georgia, where he lived the entire previous year, reports Sota. The decision was explained by some “other reasons.”
In a conversation with The Insider, Olenichev explained that this happened on February 13:
“I have been living in Georgia since April 1 last year permanently. I have an individual entrepreneur there, I paid taxes and did business in Russia to protect civil activists. I went on a business trip to Berlin, held an event there and began to return from Sunday to Monday night to Istanbul, and there was a transfer to Tbilisi. At 04:00 am on Monday, a plane flew to Tbilisi, at the border control the employee did not ask me a single question, she only took a picture of my passport, sent it to someone and said: “Wait.” I waited for her for two hours, she returned and said that we should move aside, to the left, where the office with other border control officers is located. Next to this office, I waited another half an hour, after which a border control officer came to me with a document already printed out, which he did not present to me and did not ask any questions, and simply said that they would not let me into Georgia. I asked why? “For other reasons.” I asked for a copy of the document, he did not give it to me, he also did not give me a passport, but gave it to an employee of the airline. I said that I would not go anywhere until they gave me my passport. They did not give me my passport and actually forced me to board the plane. I got back on the plane, the airline did not give me my passport. The plane landed in Istanbul, I got off there, the airline handed over my passport to the Turkish border guards. They still punched him through their base for an hour, did not find anything criminal and released him to Istanbul. In 2022, such cases began to appear when people from my circle before leaving Georgia also go through border control, some kind of inscription is displayed there, and these people wait another 10 minutes for permission to leave, and at the entrance they also checked 30–40 minutes these bases, photographed the passport, sent it via WhatsApp and waited for confirmation whether it was possible to enter the country or not. Here there was some kind of failure and they decided not to let me in. On Monday, February 13, they didn’t let me in, and on February 14, information appeared in public that some Georgian deputies were introducing a bill on foreign agents, which is very similar to the Russian one.
I returned to Turkey and waited there for three days for my suitcase. The border guards and the airline said that the suitcase was loaded, but when I arrived, it turned out that this suitcase was not there, it was not loaded on the flight, and I had to live in Istanbul for three days and wait for my things. I have a lot of things left in Tbilisi, and I can’t take them out in any way. When I received my suitcase, I left for Armenia, but I will stay here temporarily and while I think what to do next and how to look for a new home. I will either stay in Armenia or move to Europe. I decided that within a couple of weeks I would come to my senses and then I would already understand how to deal with life strategy. At the same time, I continue to do business in Russia, this has not affected my professional activities.”
On February 20, Philip Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of the Arzamas portal, who has been living in Georgia for almost a year, was not allowed into Georgia without explanation. The journalist was not explained the reasons for this decision and was not given any documents confirming the refusal of entry.
Since the outbreak of the war, Georgia has not allowed dozens of Russians associated with activist or journalistic activities to enter the country. In particular, Lyubov Sobol, an employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, politician Dmitry Gudkov, and Olga Borisova, a member of Pussy Riot, could not enter the country.
Russian-Georgian political analyst and columnist Yegor Kuroptev noted in a conversation with The Insider that the refusals are related to the country’s unwillingness to let high-profile figures into the territory, while otherwise Russians can find refuge in Georgia.