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Tbilisi condemns detention of Georgian citizens in Tskhinvali

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, June 21
10 Georgian citizens detained at the village of Ghari, close to the administrative border with breakaway South Ossetia last week have been taken to Tskhinvali, Georgian interior Ministry reported on Monday.

According to the Ministry’s the detainees – Lasha Markoishvili, Davit Jeladze, Vitali Samkharadze, Tornike Jeladze, Beso Jeladze, Dito Markoishvili, Giorgi Markoishvili, Giorgi Metreveli, Vaso Markoishvili and Gia Kakrashvili were attending a religious celebration in the village of Ghari on June 18. The Ministry said that the religious holiday – Sajvareoba has been celebrated by Georgians and Ossetians “together for centuries.” “The holy places, which the population visits during Sajvareoba, are located close to the occupation borderline. Occupants detained the abovementioned people at St. George sacred image,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile the de facto South Ossetian authorities have issued a statement on the detention of the Georgian citizens, saying that the detainees violated the South Ossetian “state border.” The de facto State Security Service of South Ossetia said 4 people were detained on June 18 for “illegal border crossing charges,” and 6 others were detained on June 19.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry assessed the detention of 10 Georgian citizens as “neglecting” international legislation. Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze told reporters “Russia is ignoring international community’s calls about defending security measures and human rights on the territories occupied by Russia.” “This is not the first incident. It is a very regretful tendency. These incidents indicate that violating human rights on Georgia’s occupied territories is a daily practice,” Kalandadze said “It is a preplanned policy of Russian occupants, which demonstrates that they want to ignore international community’s calls on defending human rights and security measures on occupied territories,” she added.

Kalandadze called on the international community to increase international organizations’ engagement and pressure on Russia to allow international monitoring mission in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in order to “eliminate human rights violation in the future.”