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Kidnapping as business in and near of Georgia’s occupied regions

By Messenger Staff
Monday, February 1
Two days ago, another Georgian citizen was released from a Tskhivnali detention facility, where he had been taken due to the “illegal crossing of border.”

Tskhinvali is the centre of Georgia’s occupied South Ossetia (Samachablo) region, where Russian occupation forces, together with local leadership, are in control.

Several times a month, the occupants kidnap Georgian citizens in or near the so-called Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) and later release them after payinga fine, which typically amounts to 90 GEL.

It has practically become a business, a source of a guaranteed income for the Russian soldiers and local authorities and the number of the illegal detentions are gradually increasing every year.

At a glance, 90 GEL is not a substantial amount of money, especially for those living in Georgian towns, but for the people who live in small villagespeople, it is a difficult sum to pay, as they have very low incomes.

On the other hand, kidnapping people for such an amount of money hints that those living in the occupied region, including Russians and locals, are facing serious economic problems which encourage them to seek other sources of income.

The Institute of Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) has released its most recent survey, which is solely concerned with the kidnapping incidents.

Based on information provided from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA), the organisation says that last year 341 Georgian citizens were illegally detained for crossing Georgia’s de-facto Abkhazian occupational lines with another 162 abducted for crossing the South Ossetian border.

The IDFI reports that according to the information received from the State Security Agency, in the years 2009-2015, the occupational forces have detained a total number of 2,481 Georgian citizens for “illegal border crossings”, of which 1, 641 were detained by occupational forces in Abkhazia and 840 in South Ossetia.

“It has to be noted that unlike the situation in Abkhazia, the number of Georgian citizens detained for crossing the so-called South Ossetian border is annually increasing; the largest number of people detained was in 2015, when a total of 162 Georgian citizens were detained,” IDFI said.

Unfortunately, the only thing the Georgian government can do in this situation is to inform the international community about the incidents, which never prevents Russia from carrying out its activities.