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Tskhinvali denies it wants to close the ‘border’

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, November 3
The Akhalgori Children’s Costume Show in Tbilisi was cancelled on Sunday as the South Ossetian de facto authorities refused to allow the minibus carrying the 34 children to cross the administrative border. The separatist Akhalgori administration cited security measures as a reason. The Georgian side claimed that the separatists are planning to close the administrative border with Georgia. The Children’s Costume Show had been organised by the Georgian Reintegration Ministry and Akhalgori Youth House, funded by the European Union.

The de facto Deputy Akhalgori Administration head Alexandre Baratashvili said that his office had not been informed about the trip to Tbilisi. He denied that the separatist government is planning to close the “border”.

Local residents have said that the border crossing problems are related to power cuts in Akhalgori, the Georgian media reports. The de facto head of the Akhalgori Administration Alan Jussoev has commented on this, saying that Akhalgori residents have been without electricity for four days. “We have contacted the Georgian side but it was unable to provide us with specific reasons for the power cut in the region,” Jussoev said. “We possess information that the Georgian Government gave an order to cut electricity to the Leningori (Ossetian name for Akhalgori) region,” he said.

The de facto official also commented on suspending the water supply to Georgian villages. “We have cut off the water to Georgian villages because of unpaid bills. We should figure out the necessary amount of water, sign agreements about water supply and determine prices, as in all civilized countries,” Jussoev told de facto South Ossetian news agency Osinform. “The allegation made by the Georgian media is yet another attempt to discredit the South Ossetian Government and local authorities,” Osinform quoted Jussoev as saying. Georgian officials were not available to comment on this.

The Parliament Bureau session discussed the conditions of ethnic Georgians in Georgia’s breakaway regions on November 2. Georgian Parliament Members said the Government should attract the attention of the international community to the situation in the region. MP Paata Davitaia highlighted the situation in the other breakaway region of Georgia, saying that the ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia are in danger.

“The separatists are planning to close the administrative borders in Abkhazia too, ahead of their so-called Presidential elections. At the same time a large number of weapons is being imported into the region,” he said. Davitaia stressed that kidnapping Georgians has become a frequent occurrence in both regions.

“The separatists are trying to gain the votes of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia by forcing them to participate in the elections,” the leader of the We Ourselves faction and Vice Speaker of Parliament said. “The Georgian Foreign Ministry should inform all international organisations about the situation in the conflict zones,” he added. Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze said that “maximally careful” measures should by all means be taken to address this problem.