Journalistic Survey
Photo Reportage
Foreign Media about Georgia
Reader's opinion
Children's Rights
Women's Rights

Herr’s Problem, Rejected by Government

January 22, 2007

ingilo.gifIngilos, from the village of Samtatskaro in the Dedoflistskaro District, have been urging to open the way to Saingilo. They have sent open letter to the Georgian President, met the Patriarch, MP Elene Tevdoradze, representatives of the Public Defender; held protest demonstrations but their attempts ended in failure. Several days ago, the Herr brought a suit to the court with the assistance of the lawyers for the Human Rights Center.

Before appealing the court, representatives of the NGO got hold of the official letters in the state bodies, which proved that there was not any administrative or legal document on basis of what the bridge linking Georgia and Azerbaijan was locked.

According to the Dedoflistskaro District Municipality’s information, the bridge is in the charge of the “Dedoflistskaro Tskalkanali Ltd” (district water system). The bridge was built to get to the water system pipe-line which was supplying the district. Besides that, small vehicles could move along it. The water system is still functioning, though not at the full power. Most part of the water pipe-line is on the Azerbaijan territory. In 1993, the walking part of the bridge was repaired in order to make it easier to get to the water pipe-line. The bridge has not been repaired since then and now is destroyed. On December 31 2005, the bridge was locked and nobody had informed the district administrative board about the situation,” said Dedoflistskaro’s Gamgebeli, Gela Iakobashvili.

Journalist: Mr. Gela, how do you know that the bridge is in bad conditions?
Gela Iakobashvili: I was told by someone, I do not remember who it was. There is no examination report or some other documents to prove that the bridge is out of order.
Journalist: Then, why do not they let the Ingilos go to Saingilo via the bridge?
G.I: Frontier Police patrol the Georgian border and I do not know what directives they give the frontier officers and why they hider the movement along the bridge. It is beyond the administrative board’s competence. 

Officials from the Georgian Frontier Police Department within the Interior Ministry stated that the movement along the Samtatskaro-Mughanlo Bridge ceased under the demand of the Customs’ Department of the Financial Ministry and Financial Police Department. “There are no administrative-legal documents on blocking the bridge. The only reason was the technical problems of the bridge. The Azerbaijan side was not informed about blocking the bridge in time and they responded it by blocking the bridge even for walkers. Conduct of the repair works was not in the competence of the frontier police. Thus, corresponding bodies do not carry out works,” said Colonel Valeri Datunashvili, the chief of the Frontier Defense Division within the Frontier Defense and Patrol Department.

Officials from the Financial   Police Kakheti Department categorically deny the information of the Frontier Police Department. “Financial Police is not responsible for the functioning of the bridge over the river Alazani in the village of Samtatskaro,” said Zaza Tomadze, deputy chief of the department.

Journalsit: Mr. Zaza, if your office does not deal with the issues concerning the bridge, why did your representatives appear at the demonstrations, held by the villagers?
Zaza Tomadze: Nobody appeared at the demonstrations. 
Journalist: Why, was not it the chief of your department, Zurab Avazashvili, who ordered the officers of the special unit to disperse the Ingilos?
Z.T. I do not know good-bye.

Officials from the administration of the Kakheti Region Governor also deny their connection with blocking the bridge. The first deputy of the governor, Zurab Bezhanishvili said that the blocking of the bridge was beyond the competence of the governor under the August 11, 2004 decree # 318 of the Georgian President.

Custom’s Department of the Georgian Financial Ministry connects the fact with the Economical Development Ministry of Georgia. “According to the correspondence we have, walkers can move along the bridge over the Alazani River in the village of Samtatskaro. It is confirmed by December 15, 2005 letter, sent by the Transport Department,” said M. Iremashvili, the chief of the Custom’s Department’s Administration.

“Representatives of the Transport Department examined the bridged together with the chief of the Samtatskaro Custom House, Giorgi Karkadze.  It turned out that the bridge did not include the network of the roads for general use and was built to transport the water pipe-line across the Alazani River. The department does not have information about its capability in freight turnover. However, the examination showed that only walkers can cross the bridge and transport cannot move along at all. The bridge might pull down if a heavy vehicle moves along it.

Since the bridge does not include the network of the roads for general use, the department has power to ban movement along it. Moreover, it is within the competence of the local self-government,” stated the letter of the transport department.

However, as representative of the frontier police pointed out, the bridge was blocked under the order of the Georgian Financial Ministry, Custom’s Department and the financial Police. As a result, the population has serious problem.

“We think somebody is eager not only to place us in the most difficult situation, but they want us to be physically extinguished. Particularly in winter, because of the bad road and its bad location, it is totally impossible to get to the Dedoflistskaro district for us. Thus, we had to go to Azerbaijan for medical assistance. Since the bridge was blocked, cars of the medical aid arrive an hour and a half later. Six-month-old child of the Futkaradzes died for that reason. It is winter now and the conditions have worsened for us. We were forced to appeal the court to protect our rights,” said Dariko Sardalashvili, Guram Tartarashvili, Shota Nadirashvili, Temur Tamazashvili, Maia Sakanelashvili and others. They also stated that the Ingilos have restricted their rights, such as the freedom of transportation and the freedom of the religion what is envisaged and guaranteed by the constitution and international standards. They do not have right to live in normal conditions, either.

Lia Khuroshvili, lawyer for the Human Rights Center defends the villagers’ interests. She said that they sent the appeal to the court several days ago, where they demanded to abolishe the oral administrative report. Their opposed side at the court are the ”Dedoflistskaro Tskalkanali Ltd”, Frontier Police, Custom’s Department and Financial Police. 

The trial at the Dedoflistskaro District Court is earmarked for January 24 at 12:00 AM.

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti