Georgian church isolated behind barbed wire fences

GYLA filed a lawsuit against Russia at the European Court on behalf of 19 citizens living in Dvani. AFP., 17 Apr 2014 - 15:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

The installation of barbed wire fences by Russian and Ossetian border guards has left a historical Georgian church isolated behind the fences, which mark the so-called boundary between Georgian and Ossetian territory.

This means Georgian worshipers are unable to visit St George Church – a historical place of worship – as it is now located in the Zeda Adzvi village in Georgia’s uncontrolled territory.

This is extremely poignant as it will affect dozens of worshipers this Easter break.

In addition, as the boundary marker was recently placed near the Adzvi village, the farmland of many local residents has been cut as the land now rested on both sides of the border.

Senior Georgian Orthodox priests have called on Georgia’s special envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze to raise this issue during his next meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

Abashidze and Karasin met in Prague on Wednesday for a sixth time since these negotiations began in December 2012.

Abashidze said after his talk with Karasin, he was told the locals would have "unhindered access to the church” for the duration of the upcoming Easter holiday.

Furthermore, the priests also revealed the number of abductions of local residents had increased since construction of a monastery at the Bale forest, near the Ergneti village, was suspended. The area is currently being controlled by Ossetians.

The priests believed renewing the function of the monastery would reduce the number of kidnapped locals living near the occupation line and improve the stability in the region.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday a Georgian journalist and camera crew of broadcasting company TV3 were detained by Russian border guards near the occupation line when they were covering the story of Russia’s creeping occupation as it continued to move the border further into Georgian territory. The trio were released yesterday – about 24 hours after they were detained.