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14,000 Georgians were detained in Russian occupied Abkhazia in 2009-2016

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, June 9
Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanusahvili says that according to information from the Russian border forces, a total of 14,000 Georgian citizens were detained at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) with Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia in the period of 2009-2016.

“We welcome the fact that in 2016 it was possible to free 18 prisoners. A total of 4 persons were released by the Georgian side, 10 by the de facto authorities of Sokhumi and 4 by the de facto Tskhinvali authorities,” Nanuashvili stated at the presentation of Special Report on Internally Displaced Persons on Thursday.

Moreover, the Ombudsman noted that the facts of detention of children, including infants and their parents are the most concerning cases.

Nanuashvili says that last year he became aware of many facts in which the Russian Federation's military servicemen had inadequately treated detainees, abused them or restricted food or water to them.

As for the situation at the breakaway South Ossetia ABL, Nanuashvili said that in 2016 alone 134 Georgians were detained there. Among the detained 14 were women and 8 were children.

“In 2011-2016, a total of 826 Georgian citizens were detained at Shida Kartli ABL,” he added.

The Public Defender also paid attention to the grave living conditions of the locals living in the conflict areas.

“The main challenge in occupied regions is that even the minimum safety standards are not protected,” he added.

Nanuashvili stressed that Georgian prisoners remain in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi prisons even today.

“To speak generally, the situation in conflict zones is stable but very hard,” he noted.

In total, 17 Georgian citizens have been illegally detained by Russian occupant forces since May 2017. A standard fine is 2000 Russian rubles (about ˆ31 / $35 USD).

If the families of illegally detained Georgian citizens pay this amount of money, Russian-controlled "border guards” release the detainees. However, there are cases when graver charges are raised against Georgian unlucky enough to be caught.

Russia recognized the Georgian regions of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia as independent states after the Russia-Georgia 2008 war, which left 20% of Georgian territories occupied by its northern neighbor.