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Failed control at Upper Lars checkpoint2010-03-29 17:03
There is extra vigilance at the Russian-Georgian border now since both states are on alert opening the checkpoint for Armenia's sake. 21 persons out of 1000 border crossers have been fined by Russian border guards over less than a month of operation. Meanwhile local residents on both sides of the border still have no possibility to cross it without traveling to Moscow and Tbilisi.
Upper Lars has been successfully operating for already a month since the date of opening that followed 4 years' reconstruction break. However, with 400 vehicles as the checkpoint's daily traffic capacity only 450 vehicles crossed the border over 4 weeks carrying 1,000 persons with 21 violators among them.
They all violated border crossing rules. "Mainly these are citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia and Georgia", - Alexander Solod, spokesman of Federal Security Service border department for South Ossetia, explains.
In the meantime, earlier the authorities promised to offer no obstacles to CIS citizens crossing the border except for Russians and Georgians. Since Russia and Georgia are bound by the visa regime all other neighbors in the Commonwealth can freely move around Russian and Georgian territories due to Tbilisi's adherence to relevant documents after CIS succession.
Local residents have the fewest chances to get to the other side of the border via the checkpoint as they have had since 2006. According to GZT.RU the Russian side lets pass relatives to Georgia without visas, while the Georgian side turns everyone down.
There is near border Balta village in South Ossetia with mixed Ossetian-Ingush-Georgian population living there. A Georgian who wants to call at his relatives in Motherland, 20 km away, must get a Georgian visa he making a 2,500-km trip to Moscow and the same distance back.
Residents of Ossetian villages on the Georgian side of the border will make a shorter distance to have a Russian visa in Tbilisi but - alas - it's practically impossible to get it with a Georgian passport.
Alexey Buchukuri, the elder of the association of Georgians in Balta village believes that the problem is inexpert diplomacy. "As Vazha Pshavela said, a foe must be turned into a friend. As Shota Rustaveli said, the preamble is good when short", - the people's wise man is quoted on GZT.RU.