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No to Creeping Occupation - Georgian journalists protest against Russia

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, September 30
Georgian journalists protested against Russian occupation in Dvani on September 28. The motto of the protest planned via Facebook was “No to creeping occupation.” Ossetian journalists also covered the protest from the other side of the occupation line. Georgian journalists formed a human chain and performed national anthem and protested Russian occupation with posters.

The protesters spoke to the locals of the village about the situation in Dvani and also visited the three houses that were dismantled. Families of Makhatchashvilis, Mekarishvilis and Korashvilis were told to leave their homes and yards. The locals said barbed wire on the de-facto border had first been set up in 2010, but the South Ossetian side is now moving the border fifty meters inside the Georgian-controlled territory so that their houses fell beyond the “border.”

In a letter written to the co-chairs of the Geneva Talks, Murat Jioev, representative of de facto South Ossetian President said such rallies both mislead the Georgian people and the international community. Denying any violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia he said “the Border Guard Service of the Republic of South Ossetia” follows sovereign rights in accordance with the laws of the State boundary line marking. “In addition, work is carried out on the territory of South Ossetia and is aimed at preventing violations of the stability," he said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, had a telephone concersation with the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Philippe Lefort on September 27. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported that according to Karasin with journalists' protest Georgian side irresponsibly continues tension in South Ossetia border districts. According to the Russian MFA, “the Russian side entirely shared the concern that the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry has expressed about the rally.”

Karasin called Lefort and the EU Monitoring Mission to make the Georgian government stop “such a new dangerous venture” to avoid negative impact on the security and stability in the region, otherwise all the responsibility would lay on the organizers of the rally. Russian Foreign Ministry does not spread information about Philippe Lefort's answer.

According to the State Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareishvili, it is in Russian interests to create tension in Dvani. “I urge everyone not to yield to provocation, which is in Russia’s interests. Georgia most of all does not benefit from this tension. We need to move to Europe as fast as possible. Vilnius Summit is very important date in this direction. Russia managed that other states succumbed to provocations. Russia tries this by installing fences today. There will be the barbed wire fences and sometimes there will not be,” stated Zakareishvili. He said that Russia needs to tense situation in Dvani near the so called South Ossetian administrative border, and Georgia must do everything not to increase the protest into the activity that will be used by Russia against Georgia and take it back from Europe.

According to the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, all branches of the government and society should act together. "We need consolidated position. We should not use this situation for revenge. We are facing a danger. Our power is in unity. We should set up new policy, coordination with international community. They will destroy us more if they see capitulation. Russia’s instinct of a predator was revealed in different ways. Putin opened a front and now he needs to do something special in order to rescue himself," Saakashvili said in a Talk Show Ghia Eteri (Open Air) at Imedi TV.

Georgia’s occupied villages have attracted international media attention as well. 35 foreign journalists and analysts visited Dvani and Ditsi to study the situation on the ground. Near Dvani one of the journalist's mobile phone, informed her as if she had crossed the border of the Russian Federation. The journalists wondered why the fences have being built around the “border” when according to Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement, the Russian armed forces should be returned in August 2008 to pre-war positions.

As the locals say, the Russian border guards gave them two-days to empty the territory; the date which was due to expire on September 28. The Dvani locals ask the government for help. They say their situation is critical while they lack the state attention. They said they had no refugee status and their social packages were suspended.

Russian border guards did not turn up during the protest of journalists on Saturday; however, the “borderization” process continued when the rally had ended.