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Three Georgians kidnapped by Russians near Tskhinvali remain in custody

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 27
Three Georgian citizens kidnapped by Russian occupant forces from the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) separating Georgia from the de-facto republic of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) this week still remain in custody in the breakaway territory for “illegally crossing the border.”

All three detainees are from the Kveshi village in the Gori region.

According to locals, Giorgi Tsatsiashvili, 36, was kidnapped on Monday when he was walking to a local church to celebrate the Saint George’s day, while Levan Betlemishvili and Jemal Vashagashvili, both 25 years-old, disappeared yesterday.

The families of the kidnapped individuals have already been contacted from Tskhinvali over the detention.

The Kveshi village residents claimed that the church from where Tsatsiashvili was smuggled is located within the area controlled by the Georgian side.

Meanwhile, the Russians released four Georgians citizens kidnapped on November 23 from three other villages located near the ABL.

Commenting on the issue, local officials stated that they were released after their families paid a ransom/fine.

However, they stressed that the Russians had recently tightened control over the ABLs.

Just this week the Russians have kidnapped 11 Georgian citizens.

Official figures released by a local branch of the non-governmental organisation, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), revealed that more than 2,000 Georgian citizens have been detained by Russian border guards over the past six years.

Between 2009 and 2015 the agency said that 2,117 Georgian citizens had been kidnapped at ABL’s near Georgia’s occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia regions. The data, based on statistics provided by Georgia’s Interior Ministry, claimed that every single detainee had been charged with illegally crossing the so-called border.

The IDFI said 1,416 people had been detained at the ABL with Abkhazia, while 701 were detained at the Tskhinvali ABL.