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Maia Otinashvili crossing into the Tbilisi-administered territory in village Ergneti of Gori Municipality, October 9, 2018 Photo: cominf.org

Woman Detained Near Tskhinvali Returns to Georgia Proper

A 37-year-old Georgian citizen, Maia Otinashvili, a resident of village Khurvaleti in Gori Municipality, detained on charges of “crossing the state border of South Ossetia,” was released after eleven-day custody in Tskhinvali prison. Otinashvili was handed over to the Georgian authorities on October 9 in Ergneti, a village south of Tskhinvali, the region’s capital.

Otinashvili was detained on September 29 near village Khurvaleti in the Tbilisi-controlled territory; Tskhinvali authorities claimed, however, that she was detained in the vicinity of Tsinagari, a neighboring village inside the Russian-held area. They also claimed she was assisting locals in crossing “the state border” in exchange for money.

Speaking to reporters, the woman reiterated her family’s claims that at the time of detention she was working in her land plot in Khurvaleti. She said it was the South Ossetians who apprehended her and “took her to the Russians,” apparently referring to the Russian base in village Tsinagari. Otinashvili said she spent one day at the Russian base before being transferred to Tskhinvali.

Otinashvili also noted that she resisted during detention and was beaten in the process, but added that she was treated well in the following days.

Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, who visited Otinashvili in Khurvaleti today, stressed her detention was “illegal, unjustified and inhuman,” and that the state agencies used all available “formal and informal” mechanisms to secure her immediate release.

Tamaz Gegeshidze, president of the National Wrestling Federation, who also traveled to Khurvaleti, specified that Otinashvili’s release was a result of their and the authorities’ joint efforts. Gegeshidze said it was the wrestlers’ personal ties that helped secure the release, apparently referring to links with Jambolat Tedeev, Russian free-style-wrestling team trainer, who is a native of Tskhinvali.

The “security service” of the Moscow-backed authorities reported that another Georgian citizen, Akaki Dotiashvili, a resident of village Kirbali in Gori Municipality, who was detained on similar charges on October 6, was also released on October 9 after paying a fine.

In 2017, the Russian FSB officers arrested a total of 178 Georgians on charges of “illegal border crossing” in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia (126 persons) and Abkhazia (52 persons), according to the State Security Service of Georgia.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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