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Grozny Mayor: I Visited Georgia As Tourist Not As Official

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 26
Khuchiev, Mayor of Grozny, capital of Russia’s federal subject Chechnya, commented on the negative reactions on his recent secret visit to Georgia, saying he arrived as a tourist, not as an official.

Khuchiev stated the Georgian media should focus on real problems and not on his visit.

“Since January 9, 2018, I have been on official vacation and I came to Georgia for tourist purposes only,” he stated.

Georgian media reports that Khuchiev, a close associate of the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, was tasked during 2008 Georgia-Russia war to provide logistic and financial assistance to Chechen Spetsnaz groups Zapad and Vostok in Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region, that were fighting on the side of Russia and separatists.

Rustavi 2 TV says Khuchiev cooperates with de facto Abkhazian and South Ossetian “officials” and holds meetings with them.

Opposition parties slam the Georgian government for letting Grozny Mayor cross the border, adding he is the enemy of the country and should not have a right to pay any kind of visits.

Zaza Bibilashvili, member of the opposition United National Movement (UNM), says the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party was well aware of Khuchiev’s visit.

“Grozny Mayor is Georgia’s enemy. His arrival in the country means that the GD party openly cooperates with the enemy,” he stressed.

European Georgia member, Sergo Ratiani, says no security measures or state interests are preserved by the government.

“From the GD, it is an irresponsible approach towards anti-state actions targeted against Georgia,” he said.

Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia stated he had no idea about Khuchiev’s visit to Georgia.

“Khuchiev has never been in the so called blacklist. If he has committed any illegal actions against Georgia, we will find it out. I think he entered the country as a tourist,” the minister stated.

Thea Tsulukiani, Georgia’s Justice Minister, says that previous UNM government is to be blamed for not including Khuchiev in the blacklist.

“As I know this person [Khuchiev] is not in the blacklist and the border guards could not have prevented him from entering the country. We will study the issue,” she added.

Rustavi 2 reports that Khuchiev was hosted by the founder of JD Oil, businessman David Jashitashvili.

The broadcaster says they could not contact the businessman, however Jashitashvili’s mother told Rustavi 2 that Khuchiev is her son’s friend and visited their family as a guest.