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FSB Guards Tightening Control on Abkhaz Section of Georgia-Russia Border

Several Abkhaz politicians, public figures, and journalists have recently reported delays and, at times, lengthy interrogations by the Russian FSB border guards when crossing into Russia at the Psou checkpoint on the Abkhaz section of the Georgia-Russia border.

Local news outlets report that Russian border guards refer to those as “friendly conversations.” Those wishing to cross are asked whether they harbor anti-Russian feelings and are questioned about their views on developments in Abkhazia, specifically regarding the controversial agreement on transferring property in Bichvinta/Pitsunda into Russian ownership. They are also asked about their attitudes towards non-governmental organizations, as well as their opinion about Aslan Bzhania (“president”) and Inal Ardzinba (“minister of foreign affairs”). The rumors swirl that the guards received special “blacklists” of individuals who were subjected to such treatment.

The news resonated especially after the detainment of the Abkhaz journalists, including a vocal critic of the authorities, Inal Khashig. He wrote that he happens to be one of the Abkhaz “who have simply been handed over by their rulers (I have absolutely no doubt of this) to the security services of a friendly but foreign state, and now we are detained for at least a short period each time.”

The press service of Anas Kishmaria, in charge of human rights in occupied Abkhazia, reported on January 30 that several people, speaking anonymously, had contacted her office with a request to assess information about such detentions.

The local media also reports that Abkhazia residents who do not travel with their Russian passports and hold only the local Abkhaz identification documents have also been denied entry to Russia. The border guards apparently referred to excerpts from a federal law of the Russian Federation on the procedure for entry and exit of Russian citizens with dual citizenship that says Russian authorities consider them only as citizens of Russia, implying that Abkhazia residents with dual citizenship should use only Russian passports when crossing the border into Russia. The Abkhaz Telegram channels are spreading information that from March 1, 2024, this would become the default procedure. Residents without Russian citizenship may continue to cross with an “Abkhaz passport.”

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

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