(NEW YORK)— In response to news that another Russian writer and journalist was denied entry to Georgia—this time, Filipp Dzyadko was denied entry to Tbilisi on Monday as he returned from traveling in Europe—PEN America’s Program Director, Eurasia and Advocacy, Polina Sadovskaya, made the following comments:

“The decision to deny Filipp Dzyadko entry to Georgia raises serious questions about Georgia’s space for free media and expression. Dzyadko’s case is just the latest in what seems to be a pattern of Georgian authorities denying entry to independent Russian journalists, including David Frenkel and Mitya Aleshkovsky. If Georgia is serious about joining the European Union, its officials and institutions must act in alignment with EU principles on human rights, including freedom of expression. The treatment of Dzyadko and other independent voices flies in the face of those principles.”

On Monday, Filipp Dzyadko was denied entry to Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport. Customs officials first stated the “system was frozen,” but after Dzyadko waited overnight in the airport, officials denied him entry into Georgia without further explanation. Dzyadko is a former editor of Russian Esquire, former editor-in-chief of Big City (Bolshoy Gorod), and son of prominent Russian journalist and human rights defender Zoya Svetova. Dzyadko is currently the head of the educational projects Arzamas, for adult learners, and GuzGuz, for children. He has been living in Tbilisi for almost one year.

Dzyadko is the most recent Russian independent journalist and civil society member to be arbitrarily denied entry into Georgia, an apparent trend that has increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Several Russian journalists including Mikhail Fishman of TV Dzhod, David Frenkel of Mediazona, and independent photojournalist Vasily Krestyaninov have been barred from entering Georgia in 2022.

Other journalists and independent voices of Russian civil society have also been denied entry, including Pussy Riot members Olga Borisova, Gala Latygovskaya, and Veronika Nikulshina; as well as Mitya Aleshkovsky of the Need Help Foundation and the online outlet Takie Dela. On February 12, Georgian authorities denied entry to Anna Rivina, the founder of the Russian anti-domestic violence advocacy group “No to Violence.” Russian authorities declared Rivina a “foreign agent” two days prior. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that Russian citizens may enter Georgia without a visa and remain in the country for up to 365 days.


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057