US, UNDP alarmed by shooting, illegal detention of Georgian man by Russian-led occupation forces

Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze was wounded and illegally detained by occupation forces on the weekend. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 13 Jul 2020 - 13:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

The US and UNDP representation to Georgia say that they are ‘concerned and alarmed’ by the shooting and illegal detention of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze, 33, by the Russian-controlled occupation forces on July 11. 

We condemn this shooting and detention – another escalation in a series of provocative actions taken by Russian-led forces in recent weeks. Such a dangerous and unwarranted incident would not have occurred if Russia had fulfilled its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including withdrawing its forces to pre-conflict positions and allowing unfettered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” said the US Embassy. 

Louisa Vinton, head of UNDP Georgia, says that ‘unfortunately, such incidents (illegal detention) have increased over the past several months,’ expressing hope that the incidents will be investigated shortly. 

Protection of human rights and the freedom of movement are essential,” Vinton told the media earlier today. 

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says that this is an ‘another dangerous provocation by Russia, aimed at escalating and destabilising the situation on the ground during the COVID-19 pandemic.’ 

The ministry demanded the ‘immediate handover’ of Gakheladze. 

The Georgian State Security Service says that Gakheladze, a resident of the village of Kvemo Chala in Kaspi Municipality (central Georgia) was shot (in the leg) and illegally detained near the Skhvilo fortress of Kaspi Municipality.

The fact represents a dangerous precedent. It has been once again confirmed that a dangerous practice of illegal detentions creates ground for grave incidents and escalation of the situation,” said the State Security Service. 

The European Union Monitoring Mission has also responded to the incident: 

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has urged international organisations to take action for the release of Gakhelidze.

The de facto authorities of Tskhinvali alleged Gakheladze had crossed the ‘state border’ and opened fire on ‘border protection staff’ after an appearance of the latter on the scene. The de facto government claims that Gakheladze was injured in the return fire.

  • The illegal detention of Georgian citizens by Russian occupation forces near the occupation line is a common issue. Detainees are usually released after their families pay a fine. However, several Georgian citizens were murdered while in illegal detention. 
  • The standard fine is 2,000 Russian rubles (about €25 / $28).
  • Russia recognised the Georgian regions of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia as independent states in the wake of the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.
  •  The occupying forces in the two Russia-controlled Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) have detained 327 Georgian citizens for “illegally crossing the border” between 2017 and 2019, the Georgian State Security Service says.