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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Russia targets Georgian schoolchildren

Russian police have ordered Moscow schools to provide them with lists of pupils with Georgian surnames as a purge against the citizens of its southern neighbour gathers pace.

The demand comes as a Kremlin campaign to arrest and deport Georgian citizens gathered pace with the first plane-load flown to Tbilisi yesterday.

This campaign was triggered by the arrest last week of four Russian army officers by Tbilisi on spying charges.

Under pressure from Moscow, the four were released last Monday, but the Kremlin has since stepped up its campaign against Georgia, blockading road, rail, air and postal links and deploying navy ships off the Georgian coast.

Across Moscow, police have spent the week raiding Georgian restaurants, shops and businesses, including the city's two biggest casinos, both of which are now closed. The owners of many Georgian businesses have fled.

Russia's parliament heard calls for all one million Georgians working in Russia to be deported. The move would be a shattering blow to Georgia, whose fragile economy relies on their remittances to keep going.

Georgia is under siege.


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