Three Georgians detained in Abkhaz conflict zone may face 5 years in prison
Three Georgians, residents of the Tsalenjikha Municipality, who were detained by Russian military units in the Abkhaz conflict zone on June 6, are accused by the de facto state security committee of Abkhazia of ‘illegally crossing the border.‘
Tbilisi does not recognise this border and claims that the young people are being detained illegally.
Abkhaz legislation states that violating the state border is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 2-5 years.
“On June 6, Butkhuz Kvirkviya, born in 1990, Mikhail Lamandzia, born in 1987, and Mate Lamandzia, born in 1992, were detained by the joint forces of the border control of the Federal Security Service of Russia and the State Security Service of Abkhazia for illegally moving from Georgia to Abkhazia,” reads the statement made by the State Security Committee of Abkhazia.
Relatives of the detainees claim that they were collecting scrap metal when they were attacked by armed Russian military units. The State Security Service of Georgia reported that the EU Observer hotline was called in connection with the incident.
Russia recognised the sovereignty of Abkhazia after the 5-day war in South Ossetia in August 2008. Immediately after this, Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Russia.
The independent status of Abkhazia was also recognized by several developing countries in the Caribbean and Africa countries.
Georgia considers Abkhazia to be occupied by Russia. Most subjects of international law consider Abkhazia to be a separatist region of Georgia.
Incidents occur regularly in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone. Russian and Abkhaz border guards often detain villagers in areas controlled by the Georgian side.
In the spring of 2016, an egregious violation occurred when Georgian citizen Gigi Otokhoria was murdered.
Abkhaz border guard Rashid Kanji-Ogly shot him at a checkpoint on the Enguri Bridge, and, moreover, while he was crossing to the Georgian side. The murder was captured by surveillance cameras, but the murderer remains unpunished.