In front of the Georgian parliament building, several protesters stand with Ukrainian and Georgian flags and shout pro-Ukraine slogans. Groups of Russians pass by, some stop and film the demonstrators on their phones. At the same time, there are Ukrainians who do the same thing.
“Russians are also different people and have different views on war. There are those here who take a neutral position, and then there are those who oppose the war,” comments Iljana for Radiožurnál. She is from Lviv and went to Georgia because of the war.
Georgia is dealing with an influx of refugees from Russia. “It’s an absolute disaster,” complain locals. Listen to Patrik Salat’s report
He tries to take it in stride when he meets Russians on the streets in the South Caucasian country. But most of the locals are not enthusiastic about their arrival. They make it known not only by anti-Russian shouts, but also by hanging Ukrainian flags or painting graffiti with messages to Russians to go home.
For example, Alexei, who fled here from Moscow, understands their position. “What Russia is doing now is simply incomprehensible,” he admits.
Alexey worked in a kindergarten before he was summoned to the army after the start of partial mobilization at the end of September.
He did not want to go to war, so he decided to escape from Russia. But he admits that it was not easy. “I had to do some manipulations to be able to leave,” he adds.
‘Tourist or immigrant?’
Tens of thousands of Russians have come to Georgia since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. According to the editor-in-chief of the Georgian news website, the exact number is difficult to estimate.
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“It’s a disaster, an absolute disaster. Just a week ago, we published a statement by government officials that the arriving Russians now make up 3 percent of our population,” he quotes official figures. In reality, according to her, there may be many more. Russians can spend up to a year in Georgia without a visa, so migrants are difficult to distinguish from tourists.
However, their arrival has a noticeable effect on the local population, and the Russians, for example, have purchased around 3,000 properties in the country since the beginning of the invasion. As a result, prices on the real estate market rose significantly and rents also skyrocketed. Compared to last year, they have more than doubled in the capital.
“For example, some students have to live somewhere in the village and commute from there to university in Tbilisi because they simply cannot afford to live in the city,” he describes
In addition, Russian migrants are also starting to do business on a large scale in Georgia. According to the Georgian branch of Transparency International, almost 10,000 new Russian companies were registered in the country from March to September.
Patrik Salat, and
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