Amnesty International: abducted Georgian doctor must be released, crossing points must reopen

Amnesty International says that both Russia and the de facto authorities of Tskhinvali must ensure that Doctor Vaja Gaprindashvili is immediately released. Photo: Amnesty International., 22 Nov 2019 - 17:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Amnesty International says that famous Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was abducted by Russian-controlled occupation forces on November 9, must be “immediately released” and the de facto government of Georgia’s Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region must reopen crossing points with the rest of Georgia.

The statement by Amnesty International says that the closure of the crossings points since September 4, 2019 “is worsening the humanitarian situation [on the ground] by denying residents of the breakaway region access to medical care, social security benefits, education and family visits across the occupation line.”

The closure of the crossing points has particularly negatively affected older people, schoolchildren and university students and those in need of medical care,” the statement reads, mentioning the death of Margo Martiashvili in the occupied region because of the delayed medical aid.

 Amnesty International states that the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali Region must open the closed crossing points and respect and protect the rights of local civilians.

Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili has been in illegal detention starting November 9. Photo: Firefly World. 

Russia, as the state exercising effective control over the region must also uphold the right to freedom of movement of civilians, including by ensuring the end of arbitrary restrictions across the occupation line.”

Amnesty International says that doctor Gaprindashvili has been abducted and illegally charged in the occupied region.

Gaprindashvili is one of four men detained in Tskhinvali for ‘illegally crossing the border’ between 9 and 11 November. Three others have been fined and removed into Tbilisi-controlled territory. Gaprindashvili stands accused of a more serious ‘offence’ because, according to the de facto authorities, he has intentionally ‘crossed the border,” says the statement.

Amnesty International reports that one of the other three, Shota Bidzinashvili, who spent nine days in detention in Tskhinvali together with Gaprindashvili, in a media interview complained that they were held in “a cold and humid basement without air.”

The statement reads alleged mistreatment of inmates in Tskhinvali prison as “Bidzinashvili said that his head was injured when he was placed inside the detention center but he was refused treatment or access to a medic, and he was denied food during the first three days of his detention.”

In these circumstances both Russia and the de facto authorities must ensure that Vaja Gaprindashvili is immediately released from detention and compensated for the harm he has suffered as a result. They must also ensure that no-one is subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in the territory under their control.”

De facto Tskhinvali said yesterday that Gaprindashvili’s “crossing the border was well-planned.”