Total of 26 Georgian villagers have been detained in five separate cases at the administrative boundary line with breakaway South Ossetia since May 2 for what the Russian troops and authorities in Tskhinvali say is “violation of the South Ossetian border”, according to EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM)
They are mainly from the Sachkhere district, which is located on the western part of the breakaway region’s boundary line, and all of them were detained while collecting jonjoli, a plant used as a side dish in Georgia.
Detentions of local residents, which occur mostly along the southern parts of administrative boundary line, are not rare. But cases of detentions usually increase at this time of year, during jonjoli season.
While eight of those villagers, who have been among those 26 detained since May 2, are already released, 18 still remain in detention.
Persons, who are detained for “violation of the South Ossetian border”, are usually released after court in Tskhinvali fines them with 2,000 rubles (about USD 57).
EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) has called for “the prompt release” of those remaining in the detention.
“For many families living along the Administrative Boundary Line with South Ossetia, ‘jonjoli’ picking is a key source of income,” EUMM said in a statement on May 12.
“Considering its importance to the livelihood of local people, the Mission urges all parties to show understanding towards pickers who may stray across the Administrative Boundary Line with South Ossetia,” it said.