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Tbilisi denies reports on blocking checkpoints at Tskhinvali region

Wednesday, May 25
Tbilisi has denied reports of the de facto South Ossetian authorities that Georgian special forces had allegedly closed the checkpoints at the administrative border between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Information agency RES reported on Monday that the Georgian authorities had blocked border crossing points at the “border between Georgia and South Ossetia.” According to the de facto head of the Znauri region administration, Pavel Kumaritov, the roads close to the villages of Sinaguri and Kardzmani were blocked, information agency Interfax reported.

“Three days ago the representatives of Kutaisi Special Forces were unexpectedly deployed on the territory close to South Ossetia and the road was blocked. All residents, heading to Georgia, were forcedly returned back,” Kumaritov was quoted as saying. De facto head of the Akhalgori region administration, Alan Jusoev meanwhile, told Interfax that a checkpoint at the village of Mosabruni was also blocked.

“This information is false, I do not confirm it,” head of the Analytical Department at the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Shota Utiashvili said.

Meanwhile some Russian analysts have blamed Tbilisi of attempts to show that “Russia is not able to cope with the role of a guarantor of stability in the region and cannot ensure peace in the region around South Ossetia and on its borders. Speaking to RES news agency, coordinator of a working group at the Center of Central Asian and Caucasus studies, Alexandr Skakov commented on the statements of the Western authorities on an incident at the administrative border between Georgia and Tskhinvali region last week. Skakov suggested that the aim of their comments was to achieve deploying “armed military forces of foreign states under the name of the EU or some other organisation.”

“All of these incidents might have only such a goal. For sure they [the incidents] will continue in the future as well. Of course this goal will be pursued in the future too. That’s why I think that in this situation one should be very cautious, very alert and try maximally not to give in the provocations, and in case of provocations to maximally document them, otherwise it will be difficult to prove who is to blame,” Skakov noted.

Two Georgian citizens, including a minor, were wounded by the “occupational regime” militaries at the administrative border with Tskhinvali region, Georgian Interior Ministry reported on May 18. According to the Ministry, the incident happened at about 8 am in the morning, when a group of five residents of the village of Chalvani, Sachkhere region, were collecting capers at Cholto Gorge, close to the administrative boundary line with Tskhinvali region.

Commenting on the incident, the US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon said Russia’s military presence in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region on which the Russian officials are “not fully transparent, is a problem.” “It is precisely this sort of incident that happened today that underscores why we are concerned about the unresolved situation in Georgia,” Gordon stated.

The US Embassy in Georgia also expressed its concerns over the reports of a “violent incident” at the administrative border with South Ossetia. “We urge all parties to exercise restraint in the wake of the incident, to share fully all details with the European Union Monitoring Mission and to participate as soon as possible in an ad hoc meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism. The incident highlights the ongoing need for EUMM access to both sides of the administrative boundary line,” the statement reads.