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State Security Service report 2020: ‘Russian occupation of Tskhinvali, Abkhazia regions was main challenge for Georgia in 2020’

Russian occupation of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia regions was the main threat and challenge for Georgia in 2020, the 2020 report of the Georgian State Security Service reads.

Russian occupation forces detained 77 Georgian citizens for “illegally crossing borders” in 2020. Illegally detained Georgian citizens Zaza Gakheladze and Irakli Bebua were sentenced to several years in prison. The occupation regime used a particularly unfair and inhumane approach towards these individuals”, the report reads.

The report also reads that the issue of immediate and unconditional release of Georgian citizens was raised at the Geneva International Discussions and International Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting. Also, the European Union Monitoring mission (EUMM)-managed Hotline was actively used as an effective tool to address specific issues, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zaza Gakheladze, who was shot and illegally detained by Russian-controlled occupation forces last year, was sentenced to 12 years and six months earlier in February 2021.

Gakheladze was detained near the administration line dividing the occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) region from Tbilisi-controlled territory in July 2020.

The occupation authorities alleged Gakheladze crossed the “state border” and opened fire on “border protection staff” after the appearance of the latter on the scene.

Irakli Bebua, an ethnic Georgian man living in Gali district of Georgia’s Russia-occupied Abkhazia region was sentenced to nine years in prison for burning the flag of Abkhazia and the possession of firearms.

Bebua was detained at the end of September 2020 after burning the flag of the de facto Abkhazia region. Later, the de facto authorities stated that they had also found a hand grenade in Bebua’s house. 

Bebua set an Abkhaz flag on fire while the region was celebrating its ‘Victory Day and the Day of Independence’ on September 30.

He stated in a video released later that he burnt the flag as he wanted Georgians and Abkhaz to live together and be friendly as earlier.

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