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Tskhinvali Leader Visits Occupied Akhalgori District

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Anatoly Bibilov, the Moscow-backed leader of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia told the residents of Akhalgori district on December 26, that Tskhinvali authorities “did not intend” to close crossing points between the occupied region and Georgia proper, until the latter “intruded on the territory of South Ossetia and placed illegal military checkpoint.” 

“We should understand that we are the citizens of one country called the Republic of South Ossetia… We share the common policy. It is not possible that the values of Leningori [Ossetian name for Akhalgori] would be concentrated only on their own welfare when the locals of Tsnelis[i] live under the guns of this Georgian checkpoint. We are the same nation and should fight against our foes together,” Bibilov said.

According to him, the reason behind the crossing point closure since September 4 was caused not by the decision of Tskhinvali authorities, but actions of Tbilisi. “This problem should neither be solved by me, nor in South Ossetia. You can address the Georgian Government and express your discontent with the closure of the road due to their thoughtless provocative actions,” he addressed the Akhalgori residents.

In occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Akhalgori district is home to approximately 2,500 ethnic Georgians, who make up 55.5% of the district’s population.

Democracy Research Institute, a Tbilisi-based public policy think tank, also reported based on the information provided by the residents of occupied Akhalgori that some people in military uniforms, supposedly representatives of Russian security service, who have recently begun census in the region, have been also calling on them to express discontent with the crossing point closure to the official Tbilisi.

The escalation in Chorchana-Tsnelisi area followed the construction of a Georgian police checkpoint near the line of Russian occupation on what has been traditionally been understood as Tbilisi-administered territory.

Protesting the construction of the checkpoint, Tskhinvali representatives disrupted the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting in the village of Ergneti on August 29 and have been demanding Tbilisi to remove the checkpoint since then.

In a tit-for-tat move Tskhinvali announced that “border service” crew has started works to “mark the border” in the disputed Chorchana-Tsnelisi area, by placing “border signs” and their flag on Tbilisi-controlled territory west of Tsnelisi village on height 944.8m.

Since late August, representatives of Tskhinvali, Moscow and Tbilisi held seven technical meetings to discuss the issue of disputed police checkpoint, but failed to reach any progress.

Amid the Chorchana checkpoint crisis, KGB of occupied Tskhinvali also closed all crossing points connecting the region with the rest of Georgia since early September, causing humanitarian crisis.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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