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President denounces arrest of teenagers

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, November 9
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visited regions close to the conflict zones on November 8. During his visit he opened a new settlement for refugees from South Ossetia in the village of Sakasheti in Gori. This settlement has been built with the financial support of Turkey and provides cottages for more than 100 families.

Speaking in the village Saakashvili noted that the Government will do everything to resolve the problems of the refugee population. He also touched on the recent incident in the nearby village of Tirdznisi in which four underage Georgians had been detained by South Ossetian military units and accused of “violation of the border” and “illegal possession of arms.” These teenagers were arrested on November 4 with the assistance of the Russian border guards who secure the administrative border of breakaway South Ossetia.

“The Great Russian Empire has detained Tirdznisian teenagers on the non-existent border. If their [Russians’] greatness is limited to the detention of children this greatness is not one to be jealous of,” stated Saakashvili on November 8. The President also noted that “there is no border” there between Georgia and another state, but only a “[Russian] line of occupation.” “This border is a border between liberty and non-liberty, between the humanity and inhumanity, between the past and the future,” stated the Georgian leader.

The arrested teenagers were still being held by the South Ossetian authorities when this newspaper went to press. The official press service of the separatist Government has announced that the teenagers will appear in court in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on November 9.

This incident was also commented on by the Georgian Foreign Ministry on Friday, which noted that this case was already the third “in which the Russian occupation troops and their proxy militias have kidnapped local inhabitants living in the vicinity of the occupied territories and levelled totally absurd charges against them.”

“The arbitrary actions on the territory adjacent to the occupied regions have taken on an absolutely immoral and disgraceful form, going beyond the limits of human comprehension: a detention on the count of terrorism has this time involved schoolchildren. Rather than trying to detect virtual terrorists on the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, the Russian side would do better to focus its attention on the violence and mass violations of human rights reported from the regions under Russian control,” stated the Georgian Ministry, referring to the Russian accusations that Georgia is providing cover for “international terrorists connected with Al-Qaeda” in the Northern Georgian regions bordering the Russian-controlled Chechen Republic.

“The aim behind this provocation, staged by the Russian occupying regime, is obvious: the Kremlin is trying to drag the peaceful population of Georgia into some kind of conflict and use this as an excuse for a possible aggression against Georgia. Moscow shuns no means to attain this goal, and even goes so far as to play on the feelings of parents. Georgia calls on the international community to take a stance against the provocations of the Russian occupiers and demands from the Russian side the unconditional and immediate release of these underage citizens of Georgia,” concluded the Georgian Ministry.