Three Georgian citizens released from illegal detention in breakaway Tskhinvali

Based on official data, 987 Georgian citizens have been detained in Tskhinvali region between 2008-2016. Photo by Nino Alavidze/, 10 Feb 2017 - 17:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three men detained in Georgia’s Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) have been released today.

The men were arrested yesterday by de facto Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) border guards, who accused them of illegally crossing the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) between breakaway Tskhinvali and the rest of Georgia.

Russian border guards patrolling the ABL detained Avtandil Takadze, Lasha Dotiashvili and Jemal Abalaki in the outskirts of the village of Kirbali, Gori region and took them to the detention facility in Tskhinvali.

All three men denied crossing the ABL, explaining they had been gathering firewood when the guards approached them with accusations.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Georgian Service cited Davit Tsertsvadze, representative of Gori Municipal Government in Kirbali, as saying that the three men were detained late in the evening yesterday.

He said there are neither barbed wire fences nor any signs around the wood at the place of detention.

Based on RFE/RL’s report, State Security Service representative Eka Atoshvili said not only her office, but the European Monitoring Mission (EUMM) hotline has been actively advocating the rights of the men. Negotiations demanding the release of the detained began immediately.

The village Kirbali is located close to the ABL. Its neighbouring village Ghromi is under Russian occupation. This is where the Russian guards were patrolling the woods in nearby Kirbali and where they detained the Georgian citizens gathering firewood.

RFE/RL says due to a high number of detentions from the village, the local population asks for a strengthening of security measures along the ABL to avoid further complications.

The illegal detention of Georgian citizens by Russian guards is a common issue near the ABL. Detainees are usually released once their family pays a fine.

Based on official data, 987 Georgian citizens have been detained in Tskhinvali region between 2008-2016.