At the OSCE Permanent Council on July 17, Georgian Ambassador to Austria, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, who also serves as a representative to Vienna-based international organizations, condemned wounding and illegal detention of a Georgian citizen, Zaza Gakheladze, near occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia on July 11.
Ambassador Tsikhelashvili, who previously served as Georgian Minister overseeing occupied regions, said such provocations escalate the situation and cause destabilization on the ground. Tsikhelashvili highlighted Gakheladze’s detention is not an exception.
“Over the years, local population have been illegally detained along the occupation line, which is a blatant violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms,” Georgian Ambassador said.
Tsikhelashvili briefed the Council of the recent detention of two other Georgian citizens, Genadi Bestaev and Khvicha Mghebrishvili as well.
According to Tsikhelashvili, despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, Russia continues “destructive actions” through installing illegal artificial barriers – that Georgia refers to as ”borderization” – in 14 more villages to divide the occupied regions from Georgia proper.
Speaking of the humanitarian challenges, she said 15 people have died in the Russian-occupied regions due to the closure of the crossing-points and the related travel restrictions, preventing them to access healthcare services on Tbilisi-controlled areas.
The United States Acting Political Counselor Lane Darnell Bahl said in her address to the OSCE Permanent Council that the U.S. is “deeply concerned” over reports this week that Russian-led security forces shot, wounded, and detained a Georgian citizen on July 11.
“We strongly condemn this shooting and the subsequent detention of this Georgian citizen and call for his immediate release,” Darnell Bahl said, adding that the U.S. “again calls upon Russia to fulfill its obligation under the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, as well as its commitment to allow unfettered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
The United States is deeply concerned over reports this week that Russian-led security forces shot, wounded, and detained a Georgian citizen on July 11 along the administrative boundary line of the Russian-occupied Georgian territory of South Ossetia. https://t.co/vcs8tay9zo pic.twitter.com/IzvEsTvk1V
— U.S. Mission to OSCE (@usosce) July 17, 2020
The Acting Political Counselor also added that the U.S. “remains resolute in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”
“It is imperative that Russia halt its destabilizing actions, implement the 2008 ceasefire agreement, and cease its occupation of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia,” she concluded.