In a statement of February 7, Georgian State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality condemned the construction of “barriers” along the occupation line in Dzukaantkari (Dzukata) adjacent to the village of Khurvaleti in Gori Municipality, at the edge of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.
The statement comes a day before the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in Ergneti, which has just resumed operation in December, after three-month suspension. To attend IPRM, and compare notes ahead of the new round of Geneva International Discussions (GID), the GID co-Chairs are currently visiting Tbilisi.
— Toivo Klaar (@ToivoKlaar) February 6, 2019
Georgian media reported that yesterday the Russian forces launched construction of “a surveillance tower” in the vicinity of village Dzukaantkari.
The State Security Service, Georgia’s domestic intelligence service, confirmed to Civil.ge that the “construction of a surveillance tower in the vicinity of occupied territory” is underway and that this issue will be “raised in strictest possible terms” at tomorrow’s IPRM meeting in Ergneti.
EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) Spokesperson Desmond Doyle confirmed to Civil.ge that the EUMM is “aware that there is some construction going on at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL),” which they believe is a new construction “replacing some older building.”
Doyle said, according to the understanding of EUMM, the building “is not on territory controlled by Georgia.” He reiterated that the Mission “patrols 24/7, especially along the ABLs with South Ossetia and Abkhazia” and “stands by the integrity of the whole of Georgia” which includes these two regions.
Minister: Tskhinvali “closing off oxygen” to residents
State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said the construction of these “artificial barriers” – checkpoints, watch-towers, barbed-wire fences – represents “an everyday assault of the occupation regime on people”, citing also a closure of the checkpoints between the region and the Georgia proper as an example of Tskhinvali “closing off oxygen” to the residents.
In Minister’s view, the aim of the construction is “to pressure [the population] and to heighten surveillance on how many Ossetians try to cross the occupation line and get to the [Tbilisi-]controlled territory.”
She confirmed, that the Ministry has raised the matter with EUMM, during the meeting with visiting Geneva International Discussion co-Chairs, and also intends to discuss the matter at a scheduled IPRM meeting.