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Russia resumes building illegal partition

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 27
The Georgian Foreign Ministry calls upon the international community to strongly assess the current situation in Georgia's occupied territories, and to undertake effective measures to put a stop to Russia's illegal activities.

While speaking with Imedi TV, locals of Atotsi accused the government of inaction.

“They think about people only during the election period…they should solve the problem, we are unable to do anything, we cannot even cultivate our lands because of these fences,” locals state.

Responding the recent actions of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Internal fairs released a statement. The statement reads that the ministry is deeply concerned by the resumption of illegal activities along the occupation line in the Tskhinvali region by the Russian government.

“In the last few days, Russian occupation forces have resumed building barbed-wire fences in areas close to the villages of Ghogheti and Atotsi, in the Kareli district. It needs to be considered that the installation of these fences in the occupied Tskhinvali region had been suspended for the past two weeks,” the Ministry states.

The ministry said it was regrettable that “despite numerous calls by the international community”, the Russian Federation is continuing to “violate the fundamental principles of international law”, as well as the commitments it undertook under the 12 August 2008 Cease-fire Agreement.

The ministry emphasizes that the Georgian government “strictly condemns” Russia’s illegal actions, which have a negative impact on the humanitarian situation of the local population and significantly restrict their internationally recognized rights, including the right to free movement, to education in their native language, and other economic, cultural and social rights.

“Unfortunately, the local population has been prevented from carrying out agricultural works and their access to cemeteries and emergency medical services has been blocked,” the statement reads.

The ministry stresses that the critical nature of the situation in Georgia's occupied regions and adjacent areas once again underlines the importance of the need to establish international mechanisms for monitoring security and human rights therein.

On February 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to a question asked by the Los Angeles Times where he stated that there was an ethnic conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and because of that, Russia got involved in the process. Putin stated as well that there were Russian peacekeepers on the territories at that time and that Russia was obliged to defend its people who were being killed there.

The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, stresses that Russian actions on the occupied regions will have a negative effect on Georgian-Russian relations. He states that it has become a Russian “tradition” that prior to his meeting with Russian collogue Sergey Karasin, the Russian Federation renews its construction of barbed-wire fences.

According to Abashidze, Russia ceased these actions during the Olympiads.

“It seems Russia is less concerned with its international image after the Olympics,” Abashidze said.

His meeting with Karasin is scheduled for March.

State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Paata Zakareishvili, said that the resumption of the installation of fences after the Sochi Games “was expected” by the Georgian authorities.

Member of the parliamentary minority United National Movement, Giorgi Kandelaki called the news “perturbing and obscure.”

Co-founder of Georgia’s Reforms Associates, Elene Khoshtaria, believes that Russia has not changed and will not change its policy towards Georgia.

“The problems we have with Russia are caused by neither the previous nor current governments of Georgia. Russia has such a policy…the only outcome from the situation is constant contact with the international community. However, the current Georgian government has thus far refrained from making critical statements in terms of Russia,” Khoshtaria said.