Moscow cracks down on Ge­or­gians

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - World -

MOSCOW (AP) — Rus­sia has tight­ened the pres­sure on eth­nic Ge­or­gians liv­ing in Moscow, or­der­ing schools to com­pile lists of chil­dren with Ge­or­gian sur­names to de­tect il­le­gal mi­grants and de­port­ing more than 100 peo­ple, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

Rus­sia and the for­mer Soviet repub­lic have been locked in a bit­ter dis­pute since the ar­rests of four Rus­sian of­fi­cers by Ge­or­gia last week on charges of spy­ing. De­spite their re­lease, Moscow has slapped a range of puni­tive sanc­tions on Ge­or­gia.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said Fri­day that Ge­or­gia was to blame for the dis­pute and spurned west­ern calls to lift the sanc­tions. Putin said in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tors should fo­cus on curb­ing Ge­or­gian con­duct he claimed was “aimed at es­ca­lat­ing ten­sion.”

Alexan­der Gavrilov, a spokesper­son for the Moscow City Hall’s ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment, said some but not all Moscow schools re­ceived the re­quest for chil­dren with Ge­or­gian names Thurs­day. He crit­i­cized the po­lice ac­tion, say­ing all chil­dren, re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity or re­li­gion, have an equal right to ed­u­ca­tion.

“If the law-en­force­ment bod­ies carry out work search­ing for il­le­gal mi­grants, it’s their busi­ness and there is no way schools must be in­volved in this process,” Gavrilov said.

Nina Zubareva, an of­fi­cial from school No. 1289 in north­ern Moscow, said the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion tele­phoned Thurs­day and de­manded a list of pupils with Ge­or­gian sur­names.

“There are very few pupils with Ge­or­gian sur­names in our school and we have hon­oured the po­lice re­quest. I must say that our pupils are Rus­sian cit­i­zens and have Moscow reg­is­tra­tion.” she said.

In an in­ter­view with Ekho Mosvsky ra­dio, Moscow po­lice spokesper­son Valery Grib­akin de­nied au­thor­i­ties asked for the names. But the Kom­m­er­sant news­pa­per said a high-rank­ing po­lice of­fi­cial con­firmed the re­quest had been made.

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