News

2015.09.08 13:45

Russia Strengthens Control on Abkhazian and South Ossetia Border Zones

Algirdas Acus 2015.09.08 13:45

It has been six years after the war broke between Georgia and Russia in August 7-12. Russia continues to strengthen control of occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories by erecting barbed wires, fences and building military bases. LRT journalists report from the occupation line that has endured the so called border building process throughout the last years.

It has been six years after the war broke between Georgia and Russia in August 7-12. Russia continues to strengthen control of occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories by erecting barbed wires, fences and building military bases. LRT journalists report from the occupation line that has endured the so called border building process throughout the last years.

David is one of the Georgians affected by Russia's intensified aims to strengthen control of South Ossetia. David gave interview staying beyond barbed wire erected three years ago. The wire separated him from his daughter who lives in the nearby city of Gori. Neighbours provide David with the most necessary things from Georgia by throwing them over the wire, the pension money as well.

David doesn’t want to leave his house, because he is afraid to lose all his property, if he crosses to Georgia.

Similar tension hovers also near the Abkhazia border – concrete walls divide Georgian villages there. Some of the houses are in Georgia, while their yards suddenly appeared to be in Abkhazia, after the concrete walls were erected.
 

People who want to visit their relatives in Abkhazia face danger. Since 2008, thousands have disappeared after having crossed to Abkhazia.

People who regularly cross the border river usually take two pairs of shoes. They leave one in Georgia, another – in Abkhazia, so that they could cross the river barefoot and avoid getting their shoes wet.

There are border zones where officers allow entering Abkhazia with goods from Georgia, in which case the bribe is a necessary condition. People who live near the border are afraid to share their stories with journalists.

Georgian officials claim that Russia intensified building walls, because of Georgia signing the Association treaty with EU on 27 June.

Georgia’s hands are tied. If the country tried to stop Russia from erecting new walls, a war would brake, just as it happened six years ago, in August 7-12. Any discussion about the barbed wire or its position would provide a precedent for the recognition of the so called border. Therefore, the Georgian side just observes its territory being fenced away from non-occupied part of the country.

Russia has set new military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the war of 2008. According to Georgia’s information, there could be around 10 thousand Russia's soldiers in Abkhazia and a similar number in South Ossetia. Russia also donates funds to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Abkhazia’s budget is by 80% funded from Russia, while South Ossetia’s – by around 90%.

SHOTLIST

Beginning of August

David in South Ossetia beyond the barbed wire

Soundbite (Georgian)

DAVID VALUASHVILI, a Georgian living beyond a barbed wire in South Ossetia:
I can’t go to Georgia, because everywhere is a barbed wire. I do not have Russian roubles, and you can’t buy anything here with Georgian money.

More of David near barbed wire

Beginning of August

Blocks divide a village near the Abkhazian border

Soundbite (English)

ELENE KHOSHTARIA, former Georgian Vice minister of the EU integration:
We have very often cases when these fences are done to cross someone’s garden. They are just not allowed to cross the step of their own house.

Far away shots of Tskhinvali, a city in South Ossetia

Soundbite (English)

DAVID ZALKALIANI, Georgian Foreign Vice minister:
It was the case before signing the Association Agreement, because Russia uses its leverage on Georgia to hinder the process of signing Association Agreement by different tools, and one of them was installing barbered fences across the occupation line.

A child jumps into the Churci River bordering Abkhazia

Shoes left on the river bank

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

KAROLIS KAUPINIS, LRT Television journalist:
People keep a pair of shoes on each side of the river, so that they could cross the river barefoot and continue they journey. If the shoes are on this side that means their owner is somewhere in his house in Abkhazia.

A narrow track across the border

Soundbite (English)

A man helping LRT:
He is afraid that after we record an interview, Russians will create a problem for him. You see, there is the only shop here, this only place where people buy something in this area. He is using it very well here and is afraid that after an interview some problems would arise. But he gave some information, told us about the relationship, that they were brothers, but now they are split and so on.

People drive cattle towards the Abkhazian border

Soundbite (Russian)

A man transporting furniture towards the Abkhazian border:
 

(Reporter asks what is he carrying), Here, furniture. (You bought it here?) Yes, yes. (Because it’s cheaper?) Here it’s cheaper, there it is very expansive.

Soundbite (English)

IRAKLI ALASANIA, Georgian Minister of Defence:

Combat operations that Russia conducted here in early 90s, 1992, 1993, the Russians had the same type of operation that they are doing now in Easter Ukraine. They had the instructors, intelligence officers, Special Forces.

Vs of Russian military base in Abkhazia.