‘EU observers see neither artillery shelling nor abductions’

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Provocations continue in South Ossetia against civilians and the police. Georgian police shell border villages and invade their territories. European observers, in turn, pretend nothing is happening.

The South Ossetian Interior Minister, Mikhail Mindzayev, says international observers from the European Union who were stationed into the buffer zone to replace Russian peace-keepers are not coping with their functions of providing security to peaceful civilians. The Deputy Defence Minister of the Republic of South Ossetia adds: “Unlawful actions began from the moment the Russian peacekeepers left the security zone to be replaced by international observers.”

Last Friday [17 Oct] the situation in the Znaur District of the Republic of South Ossetia became tense again. The Ossetian village of Mugut was attacked from the Georgian village of Dvani. During five minutes the village was being shot at from assault rifles and machine guns. No local resident was hurt, however they were scared, according to sources from the republican state committee on information and press.

On Saturday the Georgian side continued shooting with machine guns and other small arms, this time on police outposts from the Georgian village of Nikozi as the South Ossetians were enforcing their positions in border zones. Residents asked the authorities for adequate measures to be taken.

 “Unlawful actions have been going on since the Russian peacekeepers left the security zone to be replaced by international observers,” said Deputy Defence Minister of the Republic of South Ossetia Ibrahim Gasseyeyev. He added that “if the provocations from the Georgian side continue, their fire nests will be neutralised.”

Numerous facts of violating the accords by the Georgian police have been registered. They would enter a village and threaten the local residents with burning their houses and expelling them from their village. Gasseyev promised to set up an additional outpost of the South Ossetian Defence Ministry in Mugut.

South Ossetian Interior Minister Mikhail Mindzayev says international observers from the EU brought into the buffer zone to replace the Russian peacekeepers are not coping with their duties of providing security in the border zone between South Ossetia and Georgia.

Not a single international observer, nor any official, prevented the shooting on the village of Mugut, he said. Attempts to organise a meeting with the observers so as to inform them about the violations that happened in the past two weeks from the Georgian side, and find out about the measures taken, brought about no reaction.

“The international observers never show up at the scene in time and do not hesitate to show that Georgians dictate to them what to do,” Gasseyev said. “It is indeed hard to perform our duties when we have provocations, insults and the deployment of troops against the South Ossetian police on a daily basis.”

Mindzayev agrees with Gasseyev: “If the Georgian side continues provocations and shooting and detaining our citizens on our territory, we will be forced to take tough measures against those security forces that will be in the border zone.”

Following the Saturday shooting, Mindzayev ordered all the outposts of the South Ossetian Interior Ministry to shoot back. It gets harder and harder to explain to the police personnel that they are not supposed to defend themselves in the case of provocations. However, Mindzayev expressed his determination not to allow any deaths of South Ossetian citizens.

Mindzayev again criticised the international observers deployed in the security zone. “Georgia grossly violates all the accords, while the observers play a one-sided role. Absolutely no action can be seen on their behalf,” he said.

South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoyty also said the role of the dumb eye witneses was obvious. “International observers perform their mission rather strangely, without reacting to nearly daily shootings on the South-Ossetian side. The biased nature of the international observers is self-evident. Their activity does not help improve the situation. On the contrary, it makes it worse. By its actions, Georgia disrupts the Medvedev-Sarkozy Plan, while the international observers remain silent,” he said.

The Georgian media continues reporting alleged atrocities by Ossetians and Russian servicemen. For instance, the Imedi TV company quoted the chairman of the interim parliamentary commission, Paat Davitaya,  to investigate into the August events as saying that the Ossetians demand that Georgians should serve in the Russian army which aims at full exodus of Georgians from the Akhalgor District (aka Leningorskiy District).

 “Russia’s aggression continues, so I am going to put a question of Russia’s preparations for new provocations in Akhalgori and Gali,” he said. “The explosions and violations of Georgia’s air space in those areas is another proof of such preparations. The Georgian government should let the international community, including the EU, know about this,” he added.

Indeed, what will the international observers say? They see Tskhinval being restored with the help of the Russian forces as convoys with humanitarian aid are arriving all the time. Is it this aid that the military can’t divide peacefully, according to the Georgian media?

They may have forgotten that the infrastructure and the economy of South Ossetia were destroyed systematically not only during the five-day war, but also during the whole 15-year stand-off. What will the vaunted international community say, quoting the words of their numerous dumb observers?

Meanwhile, the abduction of people from South Ossetia has become more frequent. South Ossetian citizens detained by the Georgian police are being kept in the Gldani remand centre in Tbilisi, the press service of the South Ossetian part of the Joint Controlling Commission on Resolving the Georgian-Ossetian Conflict reported. All those people were detained by the Georgian side during the period from 8 to 13 October this year.

According to the ombudsman for the South Ossetian president, David Sanakoyev, eleven South Ossetian citizens are known to have been abducted by the Georgian police.

Their names and the places they were abducted from have been identified, Sanakoyev said. He mentioned the names of Ibrahim Laliyev, Lavrentiy Kaziyev, Goleri Toroshelidze, Avtandil Kelekhsayev, Alan Kelekhsayev, among others, who were abducted on their way to the village of Artsev, where a part of the road is on Georgian territory.

“Shota Sanakoyev and Totrbek Bekoyev were abducted near the village of Nikozi. Pavlik Tekhov was abducted near the Ossetian village of Korkula and the 16-year-old Alan Khachirov, as well as Alan Khugayev and Soltan Pliyev were taken by the Georgian police from the road between the villages of Dits and Eredvi,” Sanakoyev said.

He added that three others abducted near the village of Artsev on 13 October were also on this list and that the information about it became known only on 18 October.