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NGO says Gov’t not relevant to occupation law

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 12
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) has released some of the statistics concerning violations in the country’s Law on the Occupied Territories.

Georgia adopted the law following the 2008 war with Russia, imposing various restrictions for those visiting the country’s occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) without permission from the government of Georgia.

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) reports that based on Georgia’s Interior Ministry, between 2009 and 2016 a total of 363 violations of Georgia’s Law on Occupied Territories were registered.

The IDFI says that according to the provided data, that the registered cases of violation of the law decreases from year to year.

“There were 78 cases of violation in 2009 while last year the figure was decreased to 19,” the IDFI reported.

With regards to illegal economic activities in the occupied territories, the organization says only four such cases were registered over the past eight years.

“However, the Ministry didn’t give us information on how many people have been detained or how many were deprived of visiting Georgia because of the violations of the law,” the IDFI says.

They said the Ministry also refrains from making the so-called black list available, which names the foreign officials who violated the law.

“The lack of access makes it impossible to recheck a concrete information and state whether the law on the Occupied Territories is protected or not,” the NGO says.

The IDFI recalled the visit of Moscow’s Former Mayor Yuri Luzkov to Georgia this year, a man who had previously visited the occupied territories.

The NGO says the relevant bodies announced Luzkov was in the occupied territories in 2010 during the time of the United National Movement party's leadership, and at that time no investigation was launched over the issue. Consequently, they could not punish the man in 2017.

“As the Ministry refrains from airing the blacklist, it is impossible to definitely say whether Luzkov was among the registered violators or not,” the IDFI reports.

Only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru recognize the two regions as independent republics.