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Is Georgia taking it out on the Belarusian tourists?2009-07-10 23:50
The citizens of the country which is equally loyal to Abkhazia and Georgia have got into a mess in the Caucasus. Before a trip to Tbilisi, they had visited Sukhum. This resulted in a fine paid by a man, while a woman got behind bars. However, the Belarusian government does not hurry to come to their rescue.
According to the Site of the United democratic forces of Belarus, Nikolai Kvantaliani, a Belarusian (see photo), who was detained at the Tbilisian airport on June, 30, has come back home. Last autumn, the young man went to Abkhazia to visit his father's grave. This fact was confirmed by a stamp put in his passport by the Russian border guards in Adler. This year, he innocently went to Georgia, which has got the visa-free connection with Belarus. This was quite an official trip in the context of the youth exchange program initiated by the National Youth Council of Georgia. Well, what happened? Nikolai was detained while passing the passport control in Tbilisi.
"In three hours they asked me whether I was ready to pay a fine. I said I had no money on me and that my wife and my child were waiting for me at home. I suggested that they should deport me, for I was in a more or less neutral zone of the airport. They answered that they could not deport me as long as the next plane was going to take off only in three days and that they did not have any transit area", - Kvantaliani told. Luckily, it was the Youth Council representatives who vowed for him, so that he avoided the jail. However, his passport was confiscated until the court session.
According to the Georgian law, those having "illegally" visited Abkhazia or South Ossetia are sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Nikolai managed to get off with a fine of two thousand laris (that is about 1220 dollars), which was lent to him by the Georgian human rights defenders. While he and his wife were trying to get in touch with the Belarusian MFA, it turned out that another woman from Belarus has already got into the same trap in Georgia. Her native foreign policy administration did not provide her any help. Her relatives are collecting money to get her out of the Georgian prison, while the MFA is keeping silent. This fact seems to be most shocking to Kvantaliani, for the Belarusians are not warned against any problems they may have.