The needs of population living near the occupation line and in the IDP settlement (Artsevi, Kveshi, Rene, Plavismani, Karkushani, Burghuli and Skra)
In December 2021, representatives of the Democracy Research Institute (DRI) visited the villages of the Shida Kartli region, located near the occupation line, including: the village of Plavismani in the Gori municipality, where 1,423 people live; the village of Kveshi in the Kareli municipality – with a total of 950 residents; and Kvemo Artsevi - with a total of 606 residents. DRI representatives also visited the villages of Upper Rene (249 residents, 56.6% of which are ethnic Ossetians) and Lower Rene (221 residents, 77.8% of which are ethnic Ossetians) in the Kaspi municipality. In addition, socio-economic situation was assessed in the Skra IDP settlement.
At the end of 2021, representatives of the organization visited the villages of Gremiskhevi community in the Dusheti municipality, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region: Upper Burghuli - where 23 people live and 56.5% of them are ethnic Ossetians; New Burghuli - where 29 people live and 65.5% are Ossetians; and Karkushani – where 55 people live and 69.1% are ethnic Georgians.
The demographic and statistical data used in the study are based on the results of the 2014 census of the Statistics Office of Georgia.
Villages of Upper and Lower Rene
The villages are located close to the central highway, but the detention of locals is an ongoing practice by the occupation regime. The village has a problem with heating during winter. The village does not have the status of a highland settlement and cannot enjoy any specific social benefits. Rural roads are in poor condition, not even graveled; Locals name the lack of jobs and poverty as the main problems.
Skra IDP settlement
The drainage system is damaged in the IDP settlement and drinking water is supplied on schedule. Residents of the settlement receive a monthly IDP allowance in the amount of GEL 45. There is no school or kindergarten, although the settlement is served by transport for children. The road is in good condition, but there is no outdoor lighting. The sewerage system also needs to be rehabilitated. It is true that the population owns small agricultural lands, but according to them, they are insufficient. Cottages are poorly built and as a result, walls are damaged. Gas and electricity are continuously supplied, although the lack of benefits is a problem for many. The settlement does not have the status of a highland settlement, they buy firewood for heating with their own funds. The settlement does not have an individual irrigation system. Unlike the surrounding villages, as the residents of the Skra IDP settlement say, they have to arrive in Gori for medical treatment. There are 86 cottages in Skra. According to the locals, it is a problem that the hall/village club, where they had access to computers and internet 7 years ago, does not function any longer.
Lower Artsevi, Kveshi, Plavi, Plavismani and Upper Artsevi
The situation in Lower Artsevi, Kveshi, Plavismani and Plavi is better compared to other villages located along the occupation line. The settlements are less abandoned and the infrastructure is in good condition. However, it is obvious that the conflict has split people. The difficult situation of the local population and the impact of the violation of freedom of movement to Upper Artsevi, which is recognized as the territory of de facto Tskhinvali, are also evident. Compared to other similar areas, the infrastructure of the village is in good condition. State control is adequate and not excessive. The villages have a school, an outpatient clinic, garbage bins, outdoor lighting and other basic infrastructure.
(Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Dusheti municipality, Gremiskhevi community)
There is a Narekvavi reservoir in the community. There is no sign/banner denoting the village of Karkushani and thus it is not clear which settlement you are entering. There are socio-economic problems in the village. Locals did not have enough firewood during the visit and they were unable to cut firewood in the forest, as the latter is now a part of the occupied territories. In addition, the relevant voucher is delayed by the Government every year. As locals noted, they get the voucher in spring, when there is no longer the relevant need. The village cemetery is on the Russian-occupied territory. The village has been granted the status of a highland settlement. There is no medical facility in the village. The school is located in the village of Petriani, Gremiskhevi community. A total of 6 families live in the village. Electricity is supplied on schedule. There is no outdoor lighting. Land cannot be cultivated because it is dangerous for the equipment to arrive in the village, as they may be hijacked by the Russian military. Abductions have occurred several times in recent years. Residents name poverty as a problem. Transport only runs three times a week. The Gremiskhevi community is not gasified. Children are taken to the nearby Petriani school by transport. There are only three school-age children in the village. Locals have to go to Dusheti for certain needs. The village is beyond Tbilisi control and members of the 6 families living in the village actually serve as border guards. EUMM patrols every three days (EUMM).
The inner road in the village is neither paved nor graveled. Generally, as the locals say, the road is paved and straightened periodically, though it was not straightened during the visit. The village is not gasified, but is supplied with electricity constantly. For food and other needs, locals go to the village of Petriani on foot, which is located 3 kilometers away. In winter, only one family lives in the village and they have to move on foot. The village has the status of a mountainous settlement, but due to poverty and lack of security, it is virtually empty. Transport runs once a week. Police do not patrol the village at all. Locals sometimes see the EUMM monitors. The Upper Burghuli cemetery is on the occupied territory and locals are unable to visit the graves of their ancestors.
A total of 10 families live in the village of New Burghuli. The road is graveled. The village has recently been gasified. Locals have to go to Gremiskhevi on foot for different needs, which takes about an hour each way. It takes half an hour for an ambulance to arrive in the village, which is problematic for the locals. Unemployment is also a major problem in the village; the only income of locals is household activities and social assistance. The village is on the verge of abandonment.
The Democracy Research Institute considers that it is necessary to develop a special status for the population living along the occupation line, to solve their socio-economic problems and to intensify efforts relating to the freedom of movement of the residents of Upper Artsevi.