Insatiable Russians expand over currently Occupied Borders
16 September, 2010

20 Trucks of Soil and Gargantuan Russian Appetite

Many people have praised me for the bravery of crossing into the Russian-controlled area of Georgian territory. In a few days since publication of the present article (in Kviris Palitra newspaper of our media holding) Georgian Internal Minister joined the officials who appear regularly before TV cameras, stating that Russian occupiers had not moved the current dividing line even by a square meter.



However, the fact is that on 2-3 June Russians propped up mounds across the car road that used to connect Tvaurebi village to Akhmaji village of Akhalgori district and cut off any movement there. No doubt, this sort of barricading effectively equals to drawing borders. As a result, the buffer zone between the closest Georgian checkpoint and the mound now encompasses two Georgian families of Tvaurebi village, while the rest of the village – up to ten so called Tvaurebi holiday houses – rests on the other side of the mound. Locals now have no other way but to travel off-road to reach their orchards located on the occupied part. They are using only cattle as means of transporting goods. Obviously they face a big security issue as at any moment they may bump upon a Russian soldier lounging under a tree shadow.
I didn’t say in my previous article that Russians had moved their Akhmaji checkpoint. Russians simply marked the land strip connection Akhmaji with Tvaurebi by 2 km long mound. They are even reported to have said that Soviet maps show the so called South Ossetian border running exactly along the newly constructed mound. Once again I ventured to visit the Lamiskana village and Tvaurebi settlement on 9 September. I wanted to prove the truth and show support to all those people who cannot claim ownership of their houses due to a new Russian land encroachment.
Of course, I did not hope I would be allowed to the other side second time because of my article. So, I only intended to get information from our side. I was right. Georgian police at the checkpoint did not let us through. So, we had to do with conversing with Tvaurebi residents coming from the other side.
Guliko Khokrishvili, Tvaurebi resident: Our cattle roam the area which we are prohibited to enter. The source facilities of water we drink are also located there. We are concerned about water most of all. I wanted to show the water facilities to our Gamgebeli who run away from me fearing he would be shot at. I wanted to ask him to move the checkpoint close to the building to protect at least the drinking water.
So, we are more distraught seeing our dying orchards than facing Russians. The water channel is used by 12 villages for irrigation of 1500 ha of land. We have frequently called for help with irrigation channel but the district Gamgeoba refused even to give us equipment.
[Russians] allow Akhmaji residents to irrigate their lots. The upper part of Tvaurebi somehow manages to catch minor water that escapes downwards. But not even a trickle of water reaches us. Huge volumes of water are simply wasted as they run into Ksani River. The pressure was so high at the head building that Russians used to turn it off. One of their soldiers had even drowned there due to negligence. I am sure that through negotiations Russians may allow us use the irrigation water.

 

Q: Why you have not notified anybody that Russians raised mounds in Tvaurebi?
A: It turns out that the Soviet maps of Stalin era do show the Soviet South Ossetian border running exactly through Tvaurebi. Thus Russians used these specific maps to substantiate their claim. All those military equipment Russians have delivered to Akhalgori was transported using this road, which is now closed with mounds.
Tengiz Svanidze (owner of holiday house in Tvaurebi village): in 1981, the Government issued a decree allocating us 16 ha of orchard land adjacent to Lamiskana village of Kaspi district. Owners like me used their own money and had access roads to the houses and electric supply system constructed. We also privatized the houses and orchards. Years ago twenty families sold their estates and only ten of us remained. The houses are fundamentally built and suitable for living. But no sense today any more – we cannot get there.
It was the end May when we visited the place last time. We managed to take away only several pieces of furniture. Nothing more – we feared Russian troops stationed nearby and did not stay overnight there. Soon, Tvaurebi residents called us to inform that Russians had blocked the road with mounds brought in by twenty trucks. So, we are afraid to enter the area. Our Authorities should realize that our houses are now in the occupied zone; acknowledge that we are victims and reimburse us for our lost properties.
Turning a blind eye on the matter is the worse thing to do.