The Foreign Ministry said in early October that the first group of about 400 citizens stranded in Abkhazia due to the pandemic would be returned to Uzbekistan. Citizens of Uzbekistan told Kun.uz that although 19 days of October had passed, the promise had not been fulfilled.
According to Renat Yusupov, a resident of Surkhandarya, there are currently about 2,000 Uzbek citizens in Abkhazia. They came here to work. When the borders were closed due to the pandemic, Uzbek citizens stayed here, hoping the quarantine restrictions would be lifted.
Uzbekistan has not recognized Abkhazia as an independent state, so there is no Uzbek embassy there. Compatriots who got stranded in Abkhazia appealed to the embassies in Rostov and Moscow.
“There has been no definite response to our appeals for several months. We waited patiently. We are not asking the government to repatriate us free of charge, we are ready to pay for a charter flight. All we need is to cross the border and reach the territory of Russia.
Only after repeated appeals, the Foreign Ministry announced in early October that 400 citizens would be brought back to Uzbekistan and the rest would remain there until the borders are reopened.
The elderly, the sick, women and children were supposed to be evacuated. However, even though October is nearing to its end, the promise made in the statement is not being fulfilled, and we do not know whom to contact,” Khosiyatkhon Otakuziyeva, a resident of Fergana, said
Compatriots staying in Abkhazia must reach the territory of Russia first. From there, they can return home. However, Russia allows only its own citizens and Abkhazians to cross the state border. Citizens of other countries, including Uzbekistan, are not allowed to cross the Russian border for transit purposes.
“Our move to Russia depends only on the embassy staff in Moscow. The embassy did not answer the calls. The Telegram-bots set up to receive appeals are also not working or our written appeals are being ignored. We do not know the reason.
According to the Abkhazian border and customs services, the embassy should take a step for us to cross the border. The Abkhazian side is not interested in holding hundreds of Uzbeks who are gathering here.
Reportedly, a list of the first group to cross into Russian territory has arrived at the border checkpoint in Sochi. However, the Uzbek authorities, which are supposed to resolve the issue diplomatically, are not doing their job properly, so hundreds of Uzbek citizens are still forced to sleep on the streets near the border post,” Renat Yusupov said.
Uzbek citizens, who were promised to return home in early October, are currently gathering on the border with Abkhazia. In the videos sent to Kun.uz, hundreds of men and women can be seen sleeping on the streets in cold weather. There are children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women among them.
A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on 30 September stated that Uzbekistan had asked the Russian side to allow the citizens of the Republic to cross the border so that they can return home from the RF. However, no information was provided about how the Russian side responded to the appeal.
It is obvious that even if the issue is related to the Russian side, the ministry and the diplomatic missions of Uzbekistan in Russia have not established normal communication with hundreds of compatriots in Abkhazia and have not provided them with the necessary information.