South Ossetia closes crossing point again
February 6 was the last day when residents of Akhalgori District in South Ossetia (mostly ethnic Georgians) were able to go back home from the Tbilisi-controlled territory.
Starting February 7, the Tskhinvali de-facto government again closed the crossing point on which Tbilisi calls the administrative border and which South Ossetia calls the state border.
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Akhalgori is the only Tskhinvali-controlled area in South Ossetia where local ethnic Georgians were allowed to return to after the 2008 August War.
The majority of the population in Akhalgori are ethnic Georgians. The Tskhinvali authorities are in control of this region. Georgians who live there are Georgia citizens (some have local citizenship as well) who receive Georgian pensions.
Before August 2019, they could freely cross over into the Tbilisi-controlled territory. But after Tbilisi set up a new police checkpoint near the village of Chorchana in the Khashuri District (abutting on South Ossetia), Tskhinvali banned the crossings.
As a result, the region found itself on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe – people couldn’t get their pensions, medical help. They were left with no money, medicines and, often, without food.
Taking this situation into consideration, on January 24, Tskhinval/i reopened the crossing for 10 days, after it had been closed for almost five months. But it wasn’t open for everyone – only pensioners and patients could leave.
Tskhinvali says it will only open the ‘crossing point’ after Tbilisi has removed the post in Chorchana.
According to civil activist Tamar Mearakishvili who lives in Akhalgori, people who stayed did so because they need to continue receiving medical treatment, or else they have made use of the opportunity to spend the winter with their relatives.