Tbilisi Tones Down ‘Farmland Grab’ Accusation
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 30 Sep.'10 / 14:06

The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs revised its earlier statement, which accused Russian forces in breakaway South Ossetia of grabbing plots of land on the Georgian-controlled area, by toning it down.

The initial written statement, posted on the ministry’s website on September 29, accused Tskhinvali-based Russian Federal Security Service troops of carrying out “illegal ‘border demarcation works’” and seizing “additional territory” by moving “forward the line of occupation in Shida Kartli region.” It also said that at least 30 hectares of farmland were occupied by the Russian forces close to five villages at the administrative border line.

Late in the evening on September 29 a revised statement was posted on the ministry's website in which there is no mention of accusation involving seizing of farmlands.

It, however, accuses the Russian troops of “illegal ‘border demarcation works’ in Shida Kartli region”, which is described as “a clear provocation.” The move, the ministry said, “will further limit the free movement in the region for the local population.”

“It is important to note that the illegal ‘border demarcation works’ by Russian occupational forces will also significantly hinder water supply to the adjacent territories, namely to village [of] Ditsi,” the Interior Ministry’s statement reads.
A source familiar with the matter told Civil.ge that the new demarcation line, set by the Russian troops on September 29, now coincides with Soviet-times administrative borders of former Autonomous District of South Ossetia. After it was confirmed, it is understood that Tbilisi had to backtrack on the matter by giving up initial intention to press on the issue.

Whatever the circumstances of the matter might be, the new development means that, among other areas, three abandoned houses in the village of Ditsi have now fallen on the Russian-controlled area and owners of those houses are now eligible for financial compensation by the Georgian government.

After the August, 2008 war and following recognition of South Ossetia by Moscow, Russian forces in the region started building border infrastructure in line with administrative borders of former Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia. The only location where Russian troops keep a checkpoint beyond the region’s administrative border is village of Perevi, controlling an important road in that western part of the breakaway region’s administrative border.

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