South Ossetia Arrests 2 Georgians for Alleged Illegal Border Crossing

TSKHINVALI, South Ossetia – Two Georgian residents were detained Thursday by Russian-backed militias near contact line separating the breakaway region of South Ossetia from government control in Tbilisi.

Separatist authorities in the rebel capital Tskhinvali identified the two detainees as Mamuka Kopadze and Giorgi Kharazishvili. They said the two were arrested near the villages of Dvani and Chvirnisi and have been taken to a remand center in Tskhinvali.

The detainees’ family members said that they have already sent 2,000 Russian rubles (68 GEL,USD 31) to the South Ossetian KGB as a payment for their release.

Kopadze’s father said that his son was likely intoxicated at the time and was unaware that he’d crossed into rebel territory.

Georgian citizens are frequently apprehended by Russian patrols on the Ossetian side of the line and later charged with an illegal border crossing violation.

Up to 2,500 people were detained by Russia’s feared FSB security services for illegal border crossings into the secessionist Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions from 2009- 2015, according to a human rights report from Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The report noted that 162 Georgians were arrested along the contact line with South Ossetia in 2015 alone.

In most cases detained individuals are fined and later released after several days. There have, however, been cases of Georgian citizens remaining in FSB custody for several years.

Georgian government forces fought three wars against Russian-backed separatist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia between 1991-2008.

The wars left thousands dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of a quarter of a million ethnic Georgians.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia were recognized as independent states by Moscow following the 2008 war.

International law and the United Nations continue to state that the regions remain parts of Georgia.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Women's Information Center 

06 May 2016 16:19