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Tskhinvali Opens Crossing Points for Lomisoba Festival

Kremlin-backed authorities in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia have temporarily opened three crossing points along the dividing line with Georgia proper from June 13 to 17 in celebration of the regionally important religious rite of Lomisoba, the Tskhinvali-based RES news agency reported.

The crossing points that will open are Odzisi, connecting the ethnic Georgian majority occupied Akhalgori district to Tbilisi-controlled Mtskheta Municipality as well as Karzmani and Sinaguri points, connecting the occupied Java district with Tbilisi-administered Sachkhere municipality.

Only those with special passes who have been checked by the Tskhinvali’s Russian-controlled KGB will be able to cross the occupation line.

This is the first opening of the crossing points since new South Ossetian leader Alan Gagloev took office on May 24. Earlier, under his predecessor Anatoly Bibilov’s administration, the crossing points were re-opened for Easter in April.

Lomisoba is an ancient religious festival, celebrated by the people on both sides of Tskhinvali/South Ossetian dividing line. Noteworthy, the center of the Lomisoba festival is Saint George Church church, located on right on the occupation line atop the mountain range of 2,300 meters from sea level.

Background on Checkpoint Closures

Kremlin-backed authorities in Tskhinvali began to close down the crossing points in September 2019, citing threats coming from Tbilisi amid the Chorchana-Tsnelisi crisis over the Georgian police checkpoint near the occupation line.

They first restricted access to the Sinaguri and Odzisi crossing points, the latter having served up to 400 crossings on average per day prior to the closure.

Later in 2020, citing the COVID-19 outbreak, incumbent leader Anatoly Bibilov’s administration closed all five crossing points with Georgia proper, exposing the residents of the occupied region to a severe humanitarian situation, chiefly caused by delayed medical transfers to Tbilisi-controlled territory.

Georgia’s State Ministry for Reconciliation, overseeing occupied regions, reported in November 2020 that the closure had claimed the lives of 16 people over delayed medical transfers.

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

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