20 Jan 2018 - 14:25
More than 500 people were detained for allegedly crossing the so-called border between Georgia and its Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) in 2017.
De-facto officials of the breakaway Tskhinvali region said 514 people were detained last year, which is 11 percent less compared to 2016.
In total, the detainees have paid 827,000 Russian Rubles (around $14,615) as a fine and only afterwards were they released.
Russian border guards often detain those who intentionally or unintentionally cross the so-called border at locations that do not have barbed-wire fencing.
Detainees are then usually released after their families pay a fine.
The illegal detention of Georgian citizens near the occupation line is a common issue, particularly in spring and summer when residents tend to grazing cattle or to pick jonjoli (a variety of capers), mushrooms and firewood.
It is not always obvious where the occupation line has been demarcated, because Russian occupation forces keep changing the so-called borders. This process is informally referred to as "creeping occupation”.