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Georgia Sentences Russian Citizen For Entering Breakaway Region

GORI, Georgia -- A Russian citizen has been sentenced to three years in jail in the Georgian city of Gori for violating the "law on occupied territories," RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus reports.

Kazbeg Dzugkoev, who is from Vladikavkaz in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, was detained in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month and sentenced on October 21.

His lawyer, Zurab Dzarkava, said his client understood that he violated the law, which does not allow foreigners to enter South Ossetia or Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia, using checkpoints that are not controlled by Georgian authorities. Dzarkava said Dzugkoev went there unintentionally.

Dzarkava said Dzugkoev stopped his truck during the night and approached Georgian police at a checkpoint to ask the way to Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital. Dzarkava added that the sentence is too harsh and he will appeal it.

Dzugkoev was hired by a Russian construction company earlier this year to transport construction materials from Russia to South Ossetia.

The Georgian parliament adopted the law after the Russian-Georgian military conflict over South Ossetia in August 2008. Abkhazia and South Ossetia proclaimed independence after that conflict.

Russia recognized both regions' independence and has since been providing them with military and economic aid.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article wrongly stated that Georgian law does not allow foreigners to enter South Ossetia or Abkhazia.