Tina Bidzinashvili and her husband have harvested apples, quinces and peaches from the orchard behind their house since the perestroika years, when they were given it by the local collective farm in reward for hard work. But one morning recently, she woke up to find armed Russian border guards erecting a barbed wire barricade around one side of the orchard.
Her house might be in the Georgian village of Gugutiankari, the Russians explained to her, but her orchard is in the territory of South Ossetia, a small province that the international community believes is part of Georgia, but which since the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 is recognised as an independent country by Russia.
The wire is part of a process of “borderisation” by Russian border guards, during which EU monitors claim about 40km of fencing or barbed wire have been erected, augmented with hi-tech surveillance cameras mounted on poles. The fence follows a Soviet administrative boundary that was never previously applied in practice, and which runs through villages, and in some cases, through individual houses. For residents, it is the equivalent of a fence being erected to demarcate Kent and Sussex. [Read the full article]