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Georgian Minister sends his passport back to Medvedev

By Temuri Kiguradze
Thursday, November 5
Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze renounced his Russian citizenship and sent his Russian passport directly to the Kremlin by post on November 4.

Vashadze announced his decision soon after Russian Duma Deputy Semen Bagdasarov proposed revoking it, stating that the Georgian Minister is “a close ally of President Saakashvili” and conducts “anti-Russian” actions while “traveling on a Russian passport.”

“I have decided to make this easier for the Russian side, as the Russian Constitution doesn’t allow the Government there the possibility to revoke citizenship. I have already sent the Russian President my application for renunciation of my Russian citizenship and attached my Russian passport to that letter,” Vashadze told Georgian journalists on Wednesday. He added that by taking these actions he has conducted all the obligatory formalities concerning the renunciation of this citizenship.

Speaking earlier at a briefing spokesperson for the Georgian Foreign Ministry Ia Makharashvili had stated that the Minister was not surprised by the Duma Deputy’s statement but he was not going to give up his Russian passport yet. Makharashvili had added that if Russia revoked his citizenship this would be “one more non-diplomatic step from Russia’s side.”

After discussion of Bagdasarov’s proposal the Duma did not support his initiative as the revoking of citizenship is forbidden by the Constitution of Russia. Speaking the day before Vashadze’s decision the head of the Russian Duma’s Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, underlined that Russia should not revoke Vashadze’s citizenship as he is “just an official who shares the common position of the [Georgian] Government.” Revoking it may “deepen the abyss between Russia and Georgia even more,” underlined Kosachev.

Vashadze, who until now has been a citizen of both Georgia and Russia, has been a target of criticism by Georgian opposition parties, who have accused him of lobbying for Russia’s interests. Goga Khaindrava, one of the leaders of the non-Parliamentary opposition, considers that Vashadze’s renunciation of Russian citizenship will not affect his policies. “This was just a propaganda step, and even more, this propaganda campaign was begun in the Russian Duma and our politicians have just followed it,” stated Khaindrava on November 4.

Speaking to The Messenger, Khaindrava noted in reference to Vashadze’s education at the Moscow Institute of the International Relations and his former post in the Soviet Foreign Ministry that “there is no such thing as a former Soviet official –one who used to work in that system will always be there.” “It doesn’t matter what kind of passport he has, Vashadze, like many of the members of the current Government, is working to defend the interests of Kremlin,” he concluded.