Georgian National Gets Lengthy Prison Term In Separatist-Controlled South Ossetia

By RFE/RL's Georgian Service

TSKHINVALI, Georgia -- The de facto Supreme Court in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia has sentenced a Georgian national to 12 1/2 years in prison on charges of the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and illegally crossing the border.

Judge Nana Gagieva handed down the verdict and sentencing of Zaza Gakheladze on February 5, RFE/RL correspondents reported from the separatist-controlled region's capital, Tskhinvali.

Russian troops detained Gakheladze near the administrative boundary of South Ossetia on July 11, 2020. Gakheladze sustained a gunshot wound to his leg while being detained.

According to Russian authorities in the breakaway region and South Ossetia's separatist officials, Gakheladze tried to escape arrest and shot a firearm about 10 times at Russian troops.

Georgia and European Union officials have demanded Gakheladze's release.

Since Russian military forces defeated Georgia in their brief 2008 war, Moscow has recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region in Georgia, Abkhazia, as independent and has deployed troops there.

Russia and South Ossetia's de facto separatist government signed a deal in 2015 to integrate their security forces.

Moscow’s backing of the regions has drawn broad international condemnation.

Only a handful of countries have recognized the independence of the two breakaway regions, which together comprise around 20 percent of Georgian territory.