Tangerines in tug-of-war at Russia-South Ossetia border

Almost 100 trucks loaded with tangerines are stranded on Russia’s border with Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia. The tangerines are believed to be of Georgian origin.

In March 2006, the Russian Agricultural Inspectorate banned the import of Georgian fruit and vegetables, after attempts to bring the goods into Russia, using fake quality certificates.  Meanwhile, South Ossetia still has the right to export its goods to Russia.

According to Batraz Dzhanaev of the Russian Agricultural Inspectorate, the situation arose «…due to repeated violations by the Republic of Georgia of international and Russian demands regarding the quarrantine of plants. There was a mass of falsified certificates, which presents a real threat to the country's economic security. Therefore, measures were taken to temporarily ban the import of horticultural products from Georgia, and to this day they haven't been abolished.»

There are no Georgians among the people attempting to bring the tangerines across the border into Russia. Their trucks have Russian license plates. They insist the consignment is from South Ossetia. However, tangerines don't grow in South Ossetia. The drivers cannot show any certificates. All they have are personal South-Ossetian passports.

From its part, the Russian side insists the tangerines come from Georgia.

Tangerines are twice as cheap in South Ossetia as they are in Russia. For the people transporting them, selling them in Russia is the only way to make a living and support their families. Meanwhile, tons of frozen tangerines may  be thrown away.