Tbilisi Denies Entry to Passengers Coming via Roki Tunnel
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Civil Georgia
July 10 2006

The Georgian side has stepped up security measures at the checkpoint in the Ergneti village, at the administrative border with breakaway South Ossetia, to prevent foreign citizens' entrance into Georgia via Roki Tunnel, the Georgian media sources reported on July 10. These measures came after the Russian side closed down the border crossing checkpoint with Georgia in Zemo Larsi on July 8 citing repair works. But the Georgian side has condemned decision as politically-motivated. The Zemo Larsi is the only legally operating border checkpoint with Russia. Two others are located in breakaway regions of South Ossetia (Roki Tunnel) and Abkhazia. Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Giorgi Khaindrava said that closure of Zemo Larsi checkpoint aimed to complicate situation in the South Ossetian conflict zone. "It is clear that when the only legally operating border crossing point is closed down than people start searching for other means to enter into the country and the Roki Tunnel becomes an option. But it is illegal one," Giorgi Khaindrava told reporters on July 10. Reportedly several passengers moving from Russia into Georgia and into Armenia via Georgia are trapped in the conflict zone, as the Georgian side refuses to let them in. The Georgian televisions broadcasted Zurab Arsoshvili, chief of the Shida Kartli regional Financial Police, telling Armenian citizens return back to Russia and "enter into the country legally though Zemo Larsi." "It is impossible to register here those who are coming into the country as here is no legally operating checkpoint, so there should be no movement here," he told reporters.