Georgian, Russian, South-Ossetian and EUMM representatives today visited the area where the 16 Georgian citizens were arrested on 25 October and are still detained by South-Ossetian de facto authorities. The intent of the meeting was to attempt to ascertain the facts and bring the incident to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.
All participants accepted that it is likely that some of the 16 individuals crossed the Administrative Boundary Line by less than 100 metres and in all probability between 30 to 50 metres. Although different versions of the event were voiced, it was universally agreed that there was no malicious intent to cross the Administrative Boundary Line on the part of the woodcutters. There was also consensus that any action taken against these individuals would be of an administrative rather than of a criminal nature and that there was no need for further investigation.
Conclusions of the meeting were that there was a need for increased co-operation between the Dusheti Regional Police and the Russian Border Guards; the South-Ossetian and Georgian forestry departments in the area would exchange information to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring; South-Ossetian de facto authorities would inform by 1900 today EUMM on further action to be taken in this case. In addition, Russian Border Guards requested that no media release would take place prior to that time.
EUMM considers that the detainees should be released at the earliest possible opportunity and that this incident should be used as an occasion to elaborate a broader framework to facilitate cross-boundary activities for the local population.
Virginia Antonini + 995 91 22 7024