Ossetian peacekeepers appear before a Georgian court
The Georgian Interior Ministry says the pair are suspected of kidnapping Georgian citizens and illegally detaining a television crew.
Two peacekeepers from the Ossetian battalion of the joint peacekeeping forces were picked up at about two o’clock on Wednesday near the village of Monasteri, in the east of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.
Irina Gagloeva, South Ossetian government
It was a staged show with policemen hiding in bushes. Journalists with TV cameras were informed and ready to film. The peacekeepers were kidnapped as they were nearing their base.
They are being held for illegally detaining Georgian citizens, illegal possession of weapons, and membership of a gang.
On August 26, three Georgian tourists including a 13-year-old boy were arrested by the peacekeepers for illegally crossing the border. This was in Monasteri, a village close to the South Ossetian border. The story was immediately taken up by the Georgian media. Two news crews, six people in total, were sent to the area to cover the story and were also arrested by the peacekeepers.
All the Georgians were released the following day. However, the incident has caused a much brouhaha.
“Counterintelligence officers from the Mtskheta regional Interior ministry have detained Tariel Khachirov. He and others are suspected of kidnapping Georgian citizens, including a child, and journalists from two Georgian TV channels. We are now working on detaining other suspects,” said Shota Khizanishvili, the head of administration at the Interior Ministry.
However, the peacekeeping command claim the peacekeepers were illegally detained themselves. Moreover, the command were not informed of this until three hours after the detention, which is a violation of an agreement.
Menawhile, South Ossetia’s de-facto government believes the incident was staged to discredit the peacekeeping operation in the region.
“It was a staged show with policemen hiding in bushes. Journalists with TV cameras were informed and ready to film. The peacekeepers were kidnapped as they were nearing their base. The names of Russian and Ossetian peacekeepers are listed and well-known to both sides. Over the past five years Georgia has not revealed the names of its peacekeepers, despite numerous requests from Russia and Ossetia. So, any Georgian can put on a uniform and start acting as a peacekeeper and such things happen. Georgia has conducted a policy of state terrorism and this latest attack on Ossetian peacekeepers is just one more example of that. The patience among the population of Ossetia is really wearing thin,” commented Irina Gagloeva, the Chairwoman of Committee for Information and Press of South Ossetia.