Sokhumi-based Apsnypress media agency cited occupied Abkhazia authorities as saying that around 3,000 residents of ethnic Georgian majority Gali district were detained in the first quarter of 2021 for attempted “illegal” crossings into Georgia proper.
April 2 report by Apsnypress follows a meeting between representatives of Abkhaz security service’s border guard detachment, occupier Russian FSB border department, Abkhaz customs committee, and Gali district administration a day earlier.
The Abkhaz authorities effectively closed the Enguri crossing point since late February 2020, citing coronavirus pandemic fears. Sokhumi has allowed several humanitarian corridors with Georgia proper since then, with no full reopening in sight so far after a year-long closure.
The crossing rules were slightly eased in February 2021 for certain residents, including the elderly, pensioners, and persons with special needs, to travel to Tbilisi-controlled territory and back.
Gali district is home to over 30,000 people, of which the absolute majority are ethnic Georgians with Georgian citizenship.
Abkhaz ‘ombudsperson’ Asida Shakryl in March called for reopening the Enguri crossing point, noting that amid improved epidemiological situation on both sides of the dividing line, prolonged closure cannot be perceived as anything but “discrimination” of Georgian residents in Abkhazia.
Noteworthy, Sokhumi reopened for Russian travel in August, in the backdrop of the deteriorating pandemic situation in the region.