Four Georgian citizens drowned in the Enguri River as they tried to sneak out of the occupied Gali district into Zugdidi Municipality from Russian occupiers.
Two dead women and one man are members of one family living in the village of Tsarche. This village is located 17 km away from Gali. The fourth dead man is a resident of the village of Chuburkhinji, near the upper occupation line.
A relative of the deceased, who did not want to be named, told VOA that the news of the disappearance of these people had spread in the village since morning. Later, near the village of Shamgona, Enguri removed the bodies of three people, and then near the village of Orsantia:
There were Tsarchels, a couple who were left with a 7-year-old child and a cousin’s wife who died, an unusual girl who was left an orphan. They were going shopping in Zugdidi and they had a Chuburkhinjeli, he also died
“There were Tsarchels, a couple who left a 7-year-old child and a cousin’s wife died, an unusual girl who was left an orphan. They were going shopping in Zugdidi and had a Chuburkhinjeli, but he also died.
No misfortune befell them when they crossed the river, somewhere around 4-5 in the morning, water was released from the dam and the swollen river swept everyone away. “Such tragedies happen on the Enguri almost every year, as the Russians and Abkhazians disrupted the crossings from Gali to Zugdidi,” said a resident of the village of Tsarche.
The Russian occupation regime has strictly tightened the policy of restricting the right of Georgian citizens to move freely in Abkhazia since 2017. The Russians then deliberately dismantled the “checkpoints” connecting Nabakevi-Khurcha, Otobaia-Orsantia and Saberio-Pakhulani.
These roads were used daily by thousands of residents of the occupied Gali district. In the morning, he would cross into Zugdidi district, in the evening, he would return before the occupation border was closed.
For the last four years, the occupation line can only be crossed by the Enguri Bridge. For this purpose, the separatist regime issues a special permit, which costs 1000 Russian rubles (44 GEL), although obtaining a permit is a serious problem for the Galileans.
The situation in Samurzakhano has been critically aggravated since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, when the occupation regime closed the Enguri Bridge in February 2020 and reopened it only in February 2021, however, only for “certain categories of citizens”.
The Georgian government imposed a 12-day and then a 5-day mandatory quarantine on entry from the occupied territories. This further cut off the Galileans from the rest of Georgia, and the only way to get here was to secretly cross the Enguri again from the occupiers.
A relative of the dead thinks that the dead probably tried to avoid both the expected problems on the Enguri bridge and the 5-day quarantine in Zugdidi municipality:
Swimming in the Enguri is probably why they decided not to create a problem on the bridge due to the expired permit, where they would either spend it or not and then not be in quarantine for five days, it is no secret that getting quarantined is also a very serious problem for locals. They wanted to move soon and get back soon
“As I was told, all four of them had this 1000 ruble permit, but two of them had expired. This permit will be issued here for a certain period of time, and you will have to go to Sokhumi to get the magic.
Swimming in the Enguri is probably why they decided not to create a problem on the bridge due to the expired permit, where they would either spend it or not and then not be in quarantine for five days, it is no secret that getting quarantined is also a very serious problem for locals. “They wanted to move out soon and come back soon,” said a resident of Tsarche.
Citizens petitioned the Georgian government on February 11 to demand the abolition of “discriminatory quarantine for people living in Abkhazia.” Died within an hour.
“We are trying our best to simplify the quarantine, taking into account the risks that exist due to the pandemic,” said Eka Tikaradze, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs.