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CoE Commissioner Meets S.Ossetia ‘Alternative Leader’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Feb.'07 / 12:31

After holding talks with secessionist authorities in South Ossetia, the Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg met with Tbilisi-loyal self-imposed leader of South Ossetia Dimitri Sanakoev on February 17.

The meeting was held in the Georgian village of Kurta in the conflict zone, where the headquarters of the so called South Ossetian alternative authorities is located.

According to Kurta-based officials, Dimitri Sanakoev briefed the CoE Commissioner on “cases of human rights abuses” by the Tskhinvali-based authorities.

Sanakoev also informed Commissioner Hammarberg about his administration’s plans for the economic rehabilitation of the region.

A day earlier, on February 16, the CoE Commissioner met with Boris Chochiev, deputy prime minister of breakaway South Ossetia, in Tskhinvali.

During the meeting Chochiev informed Commissioner Hammarberg about “cases of violations of human rights during the Georgian-Ossetian conflict” and about recent cases of arrests of ethnic Ossetians by Georgian law enforcers “under fabricated criminal charges,” the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported.

CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg is paying a visit to Georgia from February 12-18 to assess the human rights situation in the country, including in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as in the Adjara Autonomous Republic.

After holding talks with the authorities of breakaway Abkhazia in Sokhumi, he met with head of the Tbilisi-backed Abkhaz government-in-exile Malkhaz Akishbaia on February 14.

The meeting with Akishbaia was hailed by Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili as “an extremely important fact.”

Unlike CoE officials, diplomats from the European Union show a more cautious approach towards Tbilisi’s efforts to increase the profile of its loyal ‘authorities’ in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

A fact-finding team from EU that was led by Hugues Mingarelli, the European Commission Director for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, that visited Georgia and its breakaway regions in January refrained from meeting with representatives from the South Ossetian ‘alternative authorities’ and Abkhaz government-in-exile.

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