The talks that Georgians are leaving and Russians are coming is comical - the number of cases related to the return of citizens is quite large, Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream party, said on PalitraNews TV.
Kobakhidze says that the majority of Russian citizens entering the country are Georgians.
It is a speculation to say that "Georgia is full of Russians". It is a simple statistic that is not subject to manipulation. Border crossing statistics show that there are 50,000 Russian citizens on the territory of Georgia, of which a large part, probably the majority, are Georgians. Many people who lived there came to Georgia. They are Georgians, but citizens of Russia. In total, Russians and Russian citizens can be a maximum of 20,000 people. The talks that Georgians are leaving and Russians are coming are comical. It is just a speculation," Irakli Kobakhidze said.
According to him, the opposition tried 3 times to launch a campaign and cause agitation regarding the entry of Russian citizens into Georgia, but "it turned out that there was nothing special".
In addition, according to him, the issue of Georgians living in Russia should also be taken into account, and if the visa-free regime is abolished, it will create problems for both Georgian and non-Georgian citizens.
"There is one more issue to consider - Georgians living in Russia. According to statistical data, their number is 800 thousand. There are Georgians who want to return to their homeland. How correct it is to close the borders for them, let the society discuss. The opposition demands the abolition of the visa-free regime introduced by them. If you abolish the visa-free regime, the same restrictions will be imposed on both Georgians and non-Georgians," said Irakli Kobakhidze.
Regarding the issue of citizens leaving Georgia, Kobakhidze says that "under the previous government, the population decreased by more than 200,000 people, and now that we have gone through many difficulties, the population has decreased by 20,000 people."
To the presenter's question regarding the report of the European Union Agency for Asylum - that the number of asylum seekers from Georgia to the European Union increased by a record 183% in the first half of 2022 - Kobakhidze explained that the migration statistics were affected by the pandemic.
"It is clear that the opposition is using this for speculation. During Covid, this statistic was reduced. Covid has affected migration statistics. Migration was limited and increased compared to last year, this figure is logical, there is nothing to speculate about. The talks as if the country has been emptied in the last year, are lies and speculation. Immigration-emigration balance is almost identical to what we had in previous years and is much better than it was during the time of the National Movement," Irakli Kobakhidze said.