Kremlin-backed authorities in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia have decided to allow for the opening of two checkpoints along the dividing line with Georgia proper, from the 20th – 30th day of each month from 10:00-20:00.
Tskhinvali leader Alan Gagloev’s press service reported on 18 August, that the crossing points that will open are Odzisi, which connects the ethnic majority occupied Akhalgori district with Tbilisi-controlled Mtskheta Municipality, and Sinaguri, connecting the occupied Java district with Tbilisi-administered Sachkhere Municipality.
The press release stated that because crossing points “were closed for a long period” the Tskhinvali authorities have decided to allow border crossings with expired passes until November 31, 2022.
On 19 August, the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) responded to the decision to remove the “illegal restrictions” on freedom of movement and denoted that the decision will be in effect until December 31, 2022.
The SSG emphasized that the subject was one of the main topics of discussion at meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) and that it was also “constantly discussed by the central government at the meetings of the Geneva International Discussions (GID).”
“Illegal restrictions imposed on free movement in the occupied territories and along the occupation line significantly complicate the life of the local population and damage the security environment, for which the occupying power bears full responsibility,” the SSG underscored.
Background on Crossing Point 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.
Note: The article was updated on 19 August 2022, at 17:00 to reflect the SSG’s comments.
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