Appeal for freedom of speech and respect for minority rights in Russia
We were taken aback and dismayed by reports of actions directed against ethnic Georgians in Russia. These include accounts in the international media that Moscow police have asked schools to draw up lists of pupils with Georgian surnames as part of their search for illegal immigrants, and verifiable cases where Georgian businesses in Russia have been closed. Knowing the importance to poor families of remittance to Georgia, we are also concerned at reports of measures to block bank transfers.
We feel obliged to emphasize that disputes between governments are not grounds for actions against the civilian population. We would hope that the leadership of the Russian Federation will affirm the rights of ethnic minorities; refrain from hostile rhetoric and actions against Georgians; and ensure that our common democratic values and respectful relations between neighbours are upheld.