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The News in Brief

Thursday, November 16
South Ossetia Bars Ambulances Movements at Night and Weekends

(TSKHINVALI, South Ossetia) – The de facto government of Georgia’s breakaway region South Ossetia has issued an order that bars ambulances from crossing the contact line with area’s under Tbilisi’s authority, news outlet Ekho Kavkaza reported earlier.

According to the report, ambulances will no longer be allowed to cross the contact line on weekends or between 8 pm and 8 am.

Ecko Kavkaza reported that informal restrictions were introduced about a month ago, quoting Tamar Mearakishvili, an Akhalgori-based activist who witnessed a person with serious health complication who was barred from crossing the conflict line due to the Russian-backed rebel government’s new regulations.

Mearakishvili later confirmed with the local authorities in Akhalgori that such a restriction on ambulances was in place.

Akhalgori residents often use Georgian medical facilities for due to their higher quality and close proximity. Ambulances from the nearby Georgian city of Gori can reach Akhalgori in a matter of minutes, whereas the nearest hospital in the rebel capital Tskhinvali is more than an hour and a half away.

South Ossetia’s secessionist government has not commented on the manner or issued a statement about their reasoning for the move.

Akhalgori, a small town about 30 km west of Tbilisi, had been under Georgian central government until the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. It was captured by Russian military units and illegally transferred to South Ossetia’s jurisdiction by Moscow’s occupation forces.

About 85 percent of its 7,600 inhabitants are ethnic Georgians. (DF watch)

,b>Georgia’s Population Plunges to 3.7 million Inhabitants

(TBILISI) – Georgia’s population decreased to 3.7 million inhabitants, according to data collected during the last national census in 2014.

The main factors for the significant drop include mass migration and rapidly aging population, Tengiz Tsekvava, deputy executive director of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, said Tuesday.

Following the first wave of mass migration in the early 1990s, the national birth rate quickly plummeted to all-time lows.

"The 2014 census showed that the number of permanent residents in Georgia is 3.7 million, which is a huge change. It is a significant decline compared to 2002. when 4,3 million were registered in the country,” said Tsekvava.

“The 2002 census was, in itself, a major drop from the last Soviet census from 1989 when Georgia’s population stood at 5.5 million. Huge waves of people left the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of our two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to separatist wars obviously contributed to the population decline,” Tsekvava added. (IPN)