Georgian kidnapped by Russian troops near occupied Tskhinvali

Today's incident is the latest in the series of kidnappings by Russian troops near the occupation line marked by barbed wire. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 26 Apr 2017 - 16:51, Tbilisi,Georgia

A Georgian citizen was captured by Russian troops while herding near his native village in the latest of the series of kidnappings near the occupied breakaway region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) earlier today.

Eldar Gundishvili, 68, was kidnapped near the Gori Municipality village of Adzvi, in central Georgia, while herding along with a group of young locals in an open field.

Locals and family members said the group was confronted by the Russian troops near the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) separating Georgia from the occupied region.

The younger herders managed to escape capture, however Gundishvili was taken by the occupying forces and reportedly taken to a temporary detention cell of the Tskhinvali city prison in the regional capital.

The Georgian media later reported talks for freeing the captured local were ongoing through the European Union Monitoring Mission Hotline.

It is the second time Gundishvili has been captured by the occupying forces near the ABL in recent times.

The 68-year old experiences health issues, while his family lives in socially underprivileged conditions in Adzvi. Gundishvili’s wife told reporters the family resided in a house "two to three hundred metres” away from occupying forces.

The kidnapping is the latest in series of frequent kidnappings of residents living in Georgian villages along the ABL separating Georgia from its occupied regions of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia.

Last week, three locals from the village of Artsevi near the ABL were kidnapped by Russian troops for allegedly crossing the occupation line in Gori Municipality.

The three individuals were captured as they intended to visit cemeteries of their deceased relatives behind barbed wire fences marking the ABL, in observance of Easter holiday traditions.

The kidnapped locals were later released from the illegal detention.

It is not always obvious where the occupation line has been demarcated as Russian occupation forces keep changing the so-called borders. This process is informally referred to as a "creeping occupation”.

Over 130 people were detained by guards patrolling the occupation line in 2016, based on information released by Georgia’s State Security Service.

Detainees are usually released after their families pay a fee of about 2,000 rubles (about 90 GEL or $35).