De facto authorities to reduce the number of checkpoints in Akhalgori region to one
By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, January 27
The de facto South Ossetian authorities have decided to close the checkpoint at the village of Akhmaji, at the administrative border, leaving only one checkpoint in the Akhalgori region, at the village of Mosabruni, open. The de facto regime's head of the Akhalgori region Alan Jusoev announced this late on Monday, according to information agency RES. The separatist authorities cited “security issues” as the reason for this.
Speaking to journalists Jusoev denied allegations from the Georgian side that 'border' crossing had been restricted. “Restrictions mean complete blockings off of the borders or letting only certain people cross them. However although the residents of Leningori [Akhalgori] were able to freely cross the border with Georgia before, several changes have now been made,” he added.
These changes are linked with the start of the socio-economic development of the region, the construction of “border” infrastructure and the security of the local population, Jusoev stated. “If before the Russian border police only checked people to prevent them bringing in explosives and weapons, now, thanks to documents being translated into the Russian language and approved by a notary, a database of all people crossing the border in both directions is being created,” the de facto head of the Akhalgori region stated, adding that compiling this database would help “normalise the control of the border crossing.” “More than 800 people have crossed the border with Georgia in both directions during the last 4 days. These are IDPs, people who have relatives in Georgia and so on,” information agency RES quoted Jusoev as saying.
The demand that Georgians present Russian translations of their identity documents is not alarming, Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili has said. “It was expected that the Russians would not know the Georgian language and would demand Russian-language documents,” he noted. “We should not see anything other than technical reasons behind this. However the alarming thing is that they are trying to restrict movement across the administrative border and are also creating problems in obtaining Georgian-language education. The situation on the occupied regions is alarming generally,” the Minister stated.
Meanwhile, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia has expressed “serious reservations” about the circumstances surrounding the detention of South Ossetian resident Genady Pliev, who was detained on January 4 by the Georgian police. Georgian law enforcers claimed Pliev was a member of a “South Ossetian criminal group” and was carrying a hand grenade and a firearm when detained at the village of Nikozi. The de facto South Ossetian authorities say that Pliev was “kidnapped” by the Georgian police while “doing exercises” close to the administrative border on the outskirts of Tskhinvali.
In a statement released on January 25 the EUMM said that it has “serious doubts that Pliev was abducted or that he was carrying a weapon at the time of his arrest.” “The EUMM very much hopes that all sides will reflect carefully on this case. Ultimately, with goodwill, detainees on both sides should be able to return to their homes. The EUMM has repeatedly expressed the view that people who cross the administrative boundary lines should be dealt with by administrative, not judicial actions,” the EUMM statement reads.
Issues related to border crossing procedures and incidents at the administrative borders will be discussed at the upcoming Geneva negotiations mediated by the EU, UN and OSCE scheduled for January 28, Georgian officials said. The South Ossetian delegation has already left for Geneva, according to the information agency Osinform. Head of the Ossetian delegation, de facto Special Representative in Post Conflict Regulation Issues Boris Chochiev, said that the main issue of the discussions in Switzerland will be drafting a document “obliging the Georgian side not to use force against South Ossetia.” Tbilisi has refused to sign a non-use of force document with its breakaway regions, citing that Russia and Georgia are the sides in the conflict and that such documents should only be signed by Georgia and Russia.