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CrisisWatch Georgia

Unchanged Situation

Ethnic-Georgian man reportedly died while in custody of de facto South Ossetian authorities 23 Feb, provoking outcry in Tbilisi. Deceased, 34-year-old internally displaced person from South Ossetia Archil Tatunashvili, was involved in cross-border trade along with two others who were also briefly detained; de facto govt accused group of espionage and planned sabotage ahead of 18 March Russian Presidential elections; Georgian govt and relatives denied. De facto officials voiced readiness to hand over body after post-mortem by Russian experts; relatives and political activists 26 Feb protested by briefly blocking two roads connecting South Caucasus to Russia, demanding handover of body. Co-chairs of Geneva talks (conflict settlement platform that allows Georgian, Russian, Abkhaz and Ossetian participants to discuss security and humanitarian issues since 2008 war between Russia and Georgia) expressed strong concern over Tatunashvili’s death and called for more intensive exchange of information between sides, including at 1 March Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting in Ergneti. EU and foreign embassies in Georgia also voiced concern. Georgian parliament prepared special resolution condemning incident; some MPs discussed creation of “black list” of people involved in crimes against ethnic Georgians in breakaway regions to restrict their travel and access to Georgia-provided medical and social benefits. After latest round of Swiss-mediated Georgia-Russia talks on transit trade through South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia 2 Feb confirmed its intention to sign contract with Swiss private company that will conduct monitoring of customs at crossing points leading to breakaway regions, previously controlled by Russians and separatist de facto officials. Georgia already signed contact in Dec. Transit deal would clear way for launch of transit trade through South Ossetia, based on 2011 Customs Agreement; would represent first serious breakthrough in Georgia-Russia relations since 2008 war and Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; and potentially open opportunities for more communication through de facto regions, currently largely dependent on Russia.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

12 Mar 2018
Over the last three years, we have been seeing a serious decline in the situation in the districts [of South Ossetia] mainly populated by ethnic Georgians. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Analyst, Eastern Neighbourhood
5 Feb 2018
There was a social media campaign two years ago [in Abkhazia] encouraging people to boycott the funerals of anyone who died after seeking medical care in Tbilisi. EurasiaNet

Olesya Vartanyan

Analyst, Eastern Neighbourhood

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