Two people kidnapped near the occupation line between Georgia and its Russian-occupied region of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) have been released today.
According to preliminary information, the two were detained in the local church and taken to the Tskhinvali preliminary detention facility allegedly for "illegally crossing” the so-called border.
However, as one of the detainees Eldar Gundishvili said, he was detained while he was grazing his cattle in his own yard.
This is the only way of carrying out the Georgian Easter tradition in occupied Tskhinvali as de-facto authorities usually close the so-called borders for a couple of days. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge
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”.
Two other people were also reported kidnapped from the same village a couple of weeks ago. However, they were released after paying fines.
Georgians bring food and wine to cemeteries and feast near the graves of their loved ones on Easter. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Kidnapping is a common crime in the breakaway region of Tskhinvali, though many cases go unreported because families prefer to pay the ransom with the help of a go-between in order to keep their kidnapped relatives safe.
The situation is similar in Georgia’s other Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia.
Data Vanishvili, 82, is among those who not allowed to cross this barbed wire fence. If he does, he will be arrested. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Moreover, the people living along the occupation line lack the opportunity to visit the cemeteries of their relatives and pray in churches on Easter as the de-facto authorities restrict movement on Easter.