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Russian forces move border post further into Georgia

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, October 1
The Russian Federal Security Services (FSB) started conducting illegal border demarcation activities in the village of Nikozi in Shida Kartli region on September 29. According to an official statement released by the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Georgia (MIA), the provocative behaviour of the Russian occupying forces is not only preventing the local population from free movement within the region but are significantly hindering the water supplement activities in the adjacent territories, especially the village of Ditsi.

In their previous statement, the MIA also accused the Russian FSB of seizing additional territories in the region by occupying around 30 hectares of farmland in the Georgian territories. According to the information provided by the local population, Russian occupants have been changing the border line according to the Soviet map when South Ossetia was an Autonomous unit. After the war in August 2008, and following recognition of South Ossetia by Moscow, Russian forces started building border infrastructure in line with the administrative borders of the former Autonomous Republic.

“The Russian forces are not conducting any demarcation works on the South Ossetian border with Georgia,” stressed a brief statement made by the leaders of the breakaway region on their webpage. Tskhinvali-based border protectors from the Russian FSB also denied all of the Georgian allegations. Claiming they have not changed the demarcation line, Merab Chigoevi the member of the so-called Ossetian Government said they don’t need any additional ground. According to Chigoevi, the Tskhinvali regime has addressed both the Russian and Georgian sides to demarcate the border. “Our letter of address had only been answered by the Government of Russia, while the Georgian side still remains silent,” Chigoevi told Interpressnews explaining that they have been simply studying the territories and trying to define the border. “These are not demarcation works. Demarcation is a difficult process which needs engagement from both sides,” he added.

Deputy Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Paata Davitaia, asked the International Community to react to the violations which the Russian Federation has been carrying out on the Georgian lands. Calling it “a creeping annexation against Georgia” the Deputy Chairman discussed the efforts which the international organizations should make in order for Russia to fulfill its international obligations. “The fact that the new lands have become occupied is not the only violation of the Sarkozy-Medvedev-Saakashvili Agreement but also the total disregard shown towards the EU bodies and the obligations that Russia undertook,” stated Davitaia.

Members of the Temporary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues of the Parliament of Georgia also expressed their indignation about the provocative activities in Shida Kartli. According to the statement the Commission has released, the Russian Government cannot hide their irritation towards the fact that the international Community has been encouraging Georgia. Therefore, the Russians are trying to create a stressful situation by violating the rights of the Georgian people living in the occupied territories.

As Zurab Arsoshvili, the Shida Kartli regional Governor, told the media, the International organizations have already been informed about the issue and promised that they would prevent Russia from participating in any provocative activities in the breakaway territories.

Analyst Malkhaz Chemia spoke about the internal and external reasons for Russia starting the demarcation process in South Ossetia. “The fact that people are being killed in South Ossetia every second day points out that Russia is trying to spread more influence in the South Caucasus especially when they are facing difficulties in the North. Kilometers don’t matter for Russia – it simply aims at strengthening its authority over the region. What’s more, the situation around the Kremlin has become so stressful that no one knows what the Russian authorities will do in future. The serious activities have been held in Khevsureti, one of the strategic regions of Georgia where the Russian side has made roads to Chechnya,” Chemia told The Messenger.