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Tskhinvali refuses to participate in IPRM meeting

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, January 11
The de facto South Ossetian authorities have refused to participate in the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting proposed by the EU Monitoring Mission, the news agency Res reported on Saturday. De facto Special Representative in Post Conflict Regulation issues Boris Chochiev said that this was because Tskhinvali has received no information about residents of the de facto republic allegedly detained by Georgian law enforcers. “The South Ossetian side has repeatedly warned everyone involved in the Geneva discussions that unless we receive information about the missing citizens of South Ossetia we will not participate in these meetings. Our position remains unchanged,” Res quoted Chochiev as saying.

On January 6 the EU Monitoring Mission head, Hansjorg Haber, called for the holding of an Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting early this week to discuss “freedom of movement and detainee issues close to the South Ossetian administrative boundary line.” The statement followed the detention of a South Ossetian resident, Genady Pliev, by Georgian police in the village of Nikozi at the administrative border with the de facto republic on January 4. On January 5 EU monitors visited the place the South Ossetians maintain Pliev was "kidnapped" from, 500 metres inside the Ossetian-claimed border, and talked to his neighbours and family members. Georgia states that Pliev was detained on the Georgian side of the line.

“We are trying hard to find out the details of this particular case and see what can be done to resolve the situation, in the interests of all concerned. So far, the picture is unclear with conflicting reports of what exactly happened. We will continue to look into this in the coming days,” Ambassador Haber said in his statement. “Meanwhile, this case, following recent cases of detentions on both sides of the administrative boundary line, raises wider issues concerning freedom of movement, security, and detainees. Ultimately, with goodwill, detainees on both sides should be able to return to their homes. The right forum to address these issues is the IPRM process. I therefore call on all sides to meet early next week to discuss these issues,” he added.

The de facto South Ossetian side has claimed it had been promised information about the “illegally detained Ossetian citizens”. “However unfortunately we did not receive any response to our gesture of goodwill of pardoning the Georgian teenagers detained in South Ossetia for illegal border crossing and illegal possession of explosives,” Chochiev said, adding that the Georgian side had only released five “citizens” of South Ossetia, “kidnapped” after the August conflict in 2008.

Chochiev also criticised the EU monitors, accusing them of being biased towards the Georgian side. “On January 5 the EU monitors, whose functions include monitoring the borderline with Georgia, were invited onto South Ossetian territory as an exceptional case, to enable them to acquire the relevant information [about the detention of Pliev] on site,” Chochiev said “However, unfortunately, despite the obvious proof that he was kidnapped, he is being accused of some crimes. And again, as usual, the EU monitors are silent, because if they say anything, it will be against Georgia. It seems their mission does not involve telling the truth if it is against Georgia,” he added.

The Georgian side claims that 34-year-old Genady Pliev, detained at the village of Nikozi, is a member of an “Ossetian criminal group.” He was armed with a machine gun and hand grenades when detained, the Georgian Interior Ministry reported on January 5. Pliev was sentenced to two months of preliminary detention.