The road home

On October 12, 2023, two citizens of Ukraine, former prisoners who were deported earlier from the aggressor state of the Russian Federation to Georgia, received long-awaited "white" passports, giving the opportunity to finally return to their homeland. They took the next flight from Tbilisi International Airport to Chisinau, from where they arrived in Odessa by bus. The whole journey from Tbilisi to Odessa took the guys a little more than a day. Currently, each of them has safely reached their place of permanent residence. Their way home was not easy: illegal deportation from a correctional institution in the temporarily occupied Kherson region to the borders of the aggressor state, release from prison without any documents, loss of a distinct legal status, indefinite placement in the TSVSIG (Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Citizens) in the Russian Federation, constant pressure from Russian intelligence officers, deportation to Georgia, the tedious waiting for documents, and finally, home.

The joy of the guys is enhanced by the fact that the successful outcome of their entire anabasis was not at all obvious. The problem of returning Ukrainian ex-prisoners to their homeland is systemic, since in the fall of 2022, more than 2,500 prisoners from correctional institutions of the temporarily occupied Kherson region were actually stolen by the Russian Federation. However, it (the problem) is not regulated either by international normative legal acts or by the national legislations of the States involved in the return process. Mixed in with this is the negative attitude rooted in society towards former prisoners, which is often crucial when such people are denied entry and transit through their territory by third countries. Thus, on February 01 and June 05, 2023, Latvia denied the right to enter its territory to six and fourteen ex-prisoners, respectively, only on the grounds that they had previously served criminal sentences. On the night of August 16-17, 2023, Georgia did not let 6 Ukrainians into its territory, because they are ex-prisoners. These cases are reflected in our news feed.

But, as the English say, what ends well is good. The main thing is that the heroes of this note have returned home safely!

UnMode continues to monitor the situation with the return of Ukrainian ex-prisoners from the Russian Federation, to provide them with all possible support, as well as to make every effort to ensure equal access to the exercise of their rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of former convicts. There is no place for discrimination on any grounds in a developed civilized society!