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Situation in the Russian proclaimed “buffer zone”/”security zone”



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Situation in the Russian proclaimed “buffer zone”/”security zone”
Although Russian forces have withdrawn from most of the proclaimed “buffer zone” i.e. the territory adjacent to the administrative border of South Ossetia, the security situation there remains unstable. Discriminatory attacks by Ossetian militias against ethnic Georgians and their property is systematic that in turn creates obstacles for the return of population. According to the Human Rights Watch “the so-called ‘security zone’ is anything but safe – it is a no-man’s land, and people there desperately need protection ...
Attacks and looting of local population in the “buffer zone” is systematic. South Ossetian militias and Russian soldiers take harvest, personal belongings and household items from ethnic Georgians.
Akhalgori
Situation of ethnic Georgians in Akhalgori remains to be extremely warring. At this stage, the Civil Registry Agency at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia reported to have registered 5368 IDPs from Akhalgori.
Military commander of the Russian troops in South Ossetia, Colonel A. V. Tarasov in his conversation with the representatives of Russian NGO “Memorial” did not hide that there was in fact the desire among the South Ossetian troops to expel ethnic Georgians from the region.25
The local administration was changed by the Russian citizens from North Ossetia under the control of the military commander deployed there. All ethnic Georgians who occupied office at the local level have been fired. It is through these new ‘officials’ that the policy of oppression of ethnic Georgians is carried out. As with other parts under Russian Occupation, Akhalgori remains isolated from the rest of Georgia.
Ethnically motivated attacks against ethnic Georgians have systematic nature. Ossetian forces and Russian soldiers have a free hand in abusing people, especially in the villages and of Alevi, Ikoti and Khanchaveti. 26
Looting and robbery is carried out in a well-planned manner in cooperation with the newly appointed ‘officials’. According to the statement of the inhabitant of Ikoti village, the new head of Ossetian created Police Department in Akhalgori District - Ilo Khubulovi supports Ossetian forces in abusing and robbing Georgians - “Robbed things are kept in the building that is located in front of the police department office.”27
Georgian Schools have been the primary object of attack by the separatist forces. Discriminatory attacks are carried out in line with the well-prepared plan with the aim to dismantle Georgian schools and prohibit teaching in Georgian. On October 25, Ossetian gunmen entered the Georgian school in Akhalgori. They destroyed the furniture in the classrooms and physically abused teachers and children. Georgian Public School No. 1 in Akhalgori was also subjected to attacks and looting. In Akhalgori Public School No. 3 it was prohibited to teach in Georgian and the education process is carried out only in Russian language.
Akhalgori remains isolated from the rest of Georgia. Only local residents are allowed to cross the administrative border. However, there are already reports that the border will be closed soon that makes the remaining ethnic Georgian population to leave their homes out of fear of isolation.28



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