A screengrab from TV footage showing Russian troops installing fencing poles in the vicinity of the village of Ditsi close to the South Ossetian administrative boundary line on May 27.
Georgia will send a note to Russia expressing concern over installation of fences by the Russian troops across the South Ossetian administrative boundary line, Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, said on Monday.
“We will issue a statement and a relevant note will also be sent to the Russian Federation via the Swiss embassy,” Panjikidze told journalists, adding that she will raise the issue when she meets foreign diplomats later this week and the Georgian side will also raise the issue at the next round of Geneva talks planned for June 25-26.
There have been intensified fencing efforts recently by the Russian troops on the ground, installing wire fences across parts of the South Ossetian administrative border, which, the local villagers on the Georgian-controlled areas, say affects negatively on their daily life, hinders their free movement and agricultural activities.
It was reported earlier on May 27 that fencing activities in the vicinity of Ditsi, a village close to the administrative border, resulted into moving of the administrative line deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas with some locals telling journalists that the line was moved by few hundred meters and they will no longer be able to use the land beyond newly installed fences as pasture. Similar activities were also reported in April in another section of the administrative boundary line.
Earlier on May 27 Zurab Chkheidze, the governor of Shida Kartli region, where the village of Ditsi falls, called on the government “to use all the available international levers” against ongoing fencing activities, “otherwise consequences will be grave in the villages” adjacent to the administrative borders.
President Saakashvili raised the issue during an awarding ceremony of the Georgian solders in Tbilisi and said that ongoing fencing activities were “yet another attempt to further move occupation line” deeper into the Georgian-controlled areas; in this context he also briefly mentioned in negative context government-proposed legislative amendments to partially decriminalize and ease sanctions for violation of entry rules into breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A group of lawmakers from President Saakashvili’s UNM party visited the village on the same day. UNM MP Givi Targamadze, who was in the village, said fencing activities were a result of government’s “unilateral concessions” vis-à-vis Russia. But some locals were criticizing visiting UNM lawmakers telling them that current developments were a result of the policies carried out by UNM while the latter was in power.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on May 27 that installing fences by the Russian troops was “completely illegal” and that its representative would raise the issue during an upcoming Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting in Ergneti on May 31.
The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) said it had been facilitating an exchange of information through telephone hotline about the installation of new fences in the vicinity of Ditsi.
“As freedom of movement is one of EUMM’s key priorities, a patrol has immediately been sent to the spot in order to verify and monitor developments on the ground. The issue is likely to be discussed at the next Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting in Ergneti on 31 May,” EUMM said.