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People detained at Georgia’s occupied regions

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 3
Two Georgian citizens were arrested by so-called border guards of Georgia’s occupied region of South Ossetia late on Wednesday.

Shorena Balakhashvili (39) and Laura Balakhashvili (26) were detained near the village of Atotsi in the Kareli Municipality, central Georgia, by so-called border guards for illegally crossing the border.

The two women were taken to Tskhinvali’s pre-trial detention facility.

Mariam Gulikashvili, a representative of Kareli Municipality’s governor, says that the women are not residents of the borderline villages.

Locals say that due to heavy snow, which has reached one meter, movement near the so-called administrative border has become impossible.

Georgia’s Minister of Reconciliation and Civil Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, also confirmed that the detained Georgians are in Tskhinvali’s pre-trial detention facility.

She hopes that they will be freed soon.

“We know for sure that these women have been arrested by so-called border guards. We are actively involved in the process and we hope they will be released soon,” the minister stated.

Tsikhelashvili also said that the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia had already been informed about the case. A hotline is also operating.

Moreover, a 48 year old man was abducted by Abkhazian border guards at Makhunjia village in the Gali region five days ago. However, the family of the detained Geronti Tsatava reported to the police just two days ago.

The family members of the abducted man claim that he was taken by six armed persons from his home.

“The armed men said that they were from the Abkhazian police. They requested 200,000 Russian rubles in exchange for his freedom. Otherwise they threatened to kill my husband,” the wife of the abducted man reports.

Georgia’s State Security Service confirms that Tsatava was detained by the Abkhazian side for illegally crossing the border. At present he is kept at the so-called ‘Gali Izolator’.

In case the man is not released soon, the Georgian authorities plan to raise the issue at the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting, scheduled for February 22.