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Friday, November 24
Ukraine Cites National Security Threat as Reason for Deportation of Georgian Citizens

(KYIV) – Following an intense week of meetings with his counterparts in Kyiv, Georgia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Gela Dumbadze, said Wednesday that Ukrainian officials acted on unspecified national security concerns to deport several Georgian nationals late last week.

Speaking to Georgia’s Rustavi-2 news TV station on Tuesday, Dumbadze said the Ukrainian side denied there was any connection between those who were deported and Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s, but noted that Ukraine’s security services – known as the SBU – failed to clarify the reasoning for the deportations because of “vital national security concerns”.

Dumbadze said he’d received assurances from Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman that the heads of Kyiv’s State Border Protection and the Migration Services would “discuss these cases in detail”.

Ukraine’s SBU reported on November 17 that they had deported eight Georgian citizens after carrying out a joint operation with other law enforcement services. Among those who were sent by ferry from Odessa to Georgia’s port city Poti was a cameraman from Rustavi-2, as well as several Georgian combat volunteers fighting for Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces in the eastern Donbass region.

Saakashvili, leader and founder of the opposition Movement of New Forces party in Ukraine, slammed the deportations, saying the move was carried out as a personal vendetta against him by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s billionaire former prime minister.

Both men are bitter rivals of Saakashvili’s.

Saakashvili’s political party in Georgia, the opposition United National Movement (UNM), held a protest rally outside the Georgian Foreign Ministry on November 20. They accused the Ministry of failing to protect the interests of Georgian citizens in Ukraine.

The incident was the latest case to complicate relations between Tbilisi and Kyiv – traditionally close allies in the post-Soviet space. UNM MP Koba Nakopia was banned from entering Ukraine on October 15 and on November 11, an employee of the Special State Protection Service of Georgia, who was accompanying Saakashvili’s younger son Nikoloz, was also barred from entering Ukraine. (

Former Georgian Prison Officials Charged with Abusing Prisoners

(TBILISI) -- Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has charged five former employees of prisons in Tbilisi and Rustavi with having abused prisoners through “inhumane and degrading treatment”.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Prosecutor’s Office revealed that between 2011–2012, the warden of Tbilisi’s Gldani District Prison #8, responsible for directly supervising all prisoners, and two of his subordinates would “routinely physically assault prisoners and put them in degrading conditions to punish and intimidate them”.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the three subjected prisoners to “systemic and regular acts of violence” and “denied the prisoners the right to walk, make phone calls, access to medical services and the ability to sleep”.

Two employees from Rustavi Prison #6 were also charged with “ignoring the rules and procedures of proper conduct” when dealing with prisoners.

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed that the prison administration would confiscate personal hygiene items and bed linen, forcibly removed prisoners’ clothes, and keep prisoners naked in isolated cells with low temperatures for several days at a time.

The prosecution has interviewed as many as 800 prisoners in case.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, criminal investigations have been launched into 72 former employees of Georgia’s prison system, including seven wardens and eight others who served under them.

They say that ‘all the above-mentioned crimes were committed before October 2012.

In the run-up to the 2012 parliamentary elections, a number of videos depicting the physical and sexual abuse of prisoners were leaked to Georgian TV channels. This resulted in large protests and were widely attributed to the defeat of Saakashvili’s UNM.

The Georgian Dream, a party founded by billionaire oligarch-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili, won the vote in a landslide.

Despite promises of reform, the prison system has still faced criticism from independent watchdogs and human rights groups, including the Public Defender’s office.

In a 2016 report Georgia’s ombudsman pointed to proposals from 2013 that called for the establishment an independent investigative body to investigate abuses by law-enforcement officials working in the prison system.

‘This recommendation has yet to be fulfilled’, the report added. (