Putin Confers One-Time Payment for Veterans in Abkhazia, Tskhinvali

On May 8, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree offering one-time payment of 75,000 Russian Roubles (USD 1,022) to some Russian citizens permanently residing in Georgia’s Moscow-backed regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia (and Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria) in connection with 75th anniversary of the victory in “The Great Patriotic War” – the term Russia uses to denote the period of confrontation with the Axis powers following the invasion of USSR by Nazi Germany on June 22, 1941.

The payment is to be made in May-June to war invalids and veterans, former minor prisoners of concentration camps and ghettos, widows and widowers of servicemen who died during the war with Finland, the Great Patriotic War, the war with Japan, as well as widows and widowers of those veterans who were incapacitated during these wars.

Putin first voiced the intention to make payments of 75,000 rubles to veterans during his visit to St. Petersburg on January 18, when marking the end of the 900-day siege of Leningrad. On February 7, 2020, Putin signed a decree to this end, but only covering Russian citizens residing in Russian Federation, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The vast majority of residents in Moscow-backed Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are holding Russian passports. Russia stepped up passportization of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions after passing the new citizenship law in 2002.

Authorities in Tbilisi have repeatedly criticized Russia’s conferral of citizenship to residents of Georgian soil without its approval, slamming it as one of the signs of “creeping annexation” of these territories.

International organizations also called on Russia to cease distribution of passports in these Georgian regions. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called on Moscow to “refrain from any unilateral measures affecting Georgia and its citizens, In particular as regards Abkhazia and South Ossetia, without prior discussion with and the agreement the Georgian authorities, including in the fields of economic assistance and the freedom of movement of persons and goods, in particular with respect to visas, customs and passport issues.“

From December 2000, Russia unilaterally imposes visas for the Georgian citizens, while the residents of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region are exempt. The European Parliament warned in January 2001 that the move “would amount to de facto annexation of these indisputably Georgian territories.”

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