Kyiv Deports 8 Georgians Saying They Posed a 'Danger to Ukraine'

Eight Georgian citizens were deported from Ukraine to Georgia’s seaside town Poti late on Sunday, including Tamaz Shavshishvili, a cameraman of Georgia’s TV channel Rustavi 2.

Shavshishvili claims the Ukrainian law enforcers kidnapped and physically abused him.

“It was kidnapping. Around 15 armed men broke into my flat, hit me with the butt of a gun and threw me on the floor. Then they taped my eyes closed and took me,” the cameraman recalls.

Ukrainian media reports that the deported men were associates of Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now the leader of the New Forces Movement opposition party in Ukraine, and which opposes the current government.

Soon after the Georgians were returned to their homeland, Saakashvili released a statement on Facebook, saying the detention operation of the Georgian citizens was personally led by the Head of Security of the Ukrainian President.

Before that, Saakashvili assessed the deportation of Georgians as a joint operation of the Special Forces of Ukraine and Georgia, and said that the surnames of the people to be deported were handed over to the Ukrainian side a long time ago.

Saakashvili said that while visiting Georgia this summer, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and Georgia’s ex-Prime Minister, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, often referred to as Saakashvili’s rival and the informal ruler of Georgia, made an agreement to act against him.

The ex-president also said that the kidnapped Georgians had been transported on three helicopters from Kyiv to Odessa, and from there to Poti.

Saakashvili said that Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) employees had also heavily beaten his Ukrainian driver. The SBU has not made any comment as of yet.

The Embassy of Georgia in Ukraine has released a statement regarding the case, saying after receiving the information about the deportation of Georgian citizens from Ukraine, they established communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and other agencies.

The embassy states the Ukrainian’s did not provide them with much information about the reasons of the deportation of the Georgians.

“According to the Ukrainian Security Service, the above-mentioned citizens, as a result of jointly held activities of the Ukrainian Security Service, National Police, State Immigration and Border Services, were forced to return to Georgia because of the activities that were directed against the interests of the national security of Ukraine,” the statement of the embassy reads.

Kyivpost reports that Boris Zakharov, a top member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, said on Facebook that the kidnap and deportation of the Saakashvili associates violated Ukrainian law, Article 29 of Ukraine’s Constitution and Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights. He added that the events can be qualified as a crime under the Criminal Code article on kidnapping.

By Thea Morrison

20 November 2017 16:53