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EUMM concerned at incidents in Gali region

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, June 9
The EU Monitoring Mission has expressed its concern about reports of recent incidents in the Gali District, which have “resulted in the deaths of three local officials, injuries to others, various detentions and reports of some homes being set on fire,” it says.

In a statement released on June 7 EUMM officials noted that, “this is a rapidly changing situation and the details remain unclear. As EUMM has no direct access to the area, it cannot ascertain the exact nature or dynamics of these incidents. Whilst local investigations are underway though, it is very important that all sides refrain from comments that could further increase tension in the area. Restraint is needed to ensure that the confidence of the local population is not harmed and stability not endangered.”

The EUMM suggests that a meeting between the authorities on both sides of the Abkhazian administrative boundary line is necessary as soon as possible “to ensure cooperation in resolving this situation.”

The situation in the Gali region was aggravated last week, when an employee of the de facto Abkhazian customs service was killed on June 1 and the head of the de facto Abkhazian administration in the village of Repi was murdered on June 3. The de facto Abkhazian authorities blamed the Georgian side for the murders, while Tbilisi denied this, saying that the murders were connected with the distribution of taxes collected in the villages.

Later on Monday the legitimate Abkhazian Government-in-Exile reported that there had been an “execution operation” in the villages of Repi and Dikhazurga following the murders. The legitimate Government representatives said that 5 houses had been burnt down, 3 people kidnapped and several beaten up in the two villages as an act of “revenge” after the killings. The de facto Sokhumi authorities categorically denied these claims, saying that “no execution operation has taken place in the Gali region.”

Meanwhile Russian border police officers deployed at the administrative border between Georgia and the Tskhinvali region have detained a Georgian citizen in the village of Znauri. According to information agency Res, 39-year-old Tariel Jeiranashvili has been detained on “illegal border crossing” charges. Res reported that Jeiranashvili had no documents with him when detained.