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The Daily Vertical: Strange Customs (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

So, imagine you're a citizen of one country and you want to transport goods within your home country.

And imagine for a moment that in order to do this, you would need to clear customs that are administered by a foreign country.

And on top of that, imagine you were barred by that foreign country from transporting any meat and dairy products between two parts of your own country.

Doesn't seem right, does it?

But this is exactly what is happening to Georgian citizens as we speak.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Last month, Moscow's proxies in Georgia's Russian-occupied South Ossetia region opened a so-called customs checkpoint in the Akhalgori municipality.

The Kremlin's proxies say the move is necessary to combat what it calls "smuggling" between Georgia and South Ossetia.

Additionally, Russia has deployed so-called border guards to the region.

Now, with Georgian friends and families living on both sides of the occupation line, the move is naturally creating a lot of hardship.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says it “aggravates the dire humanitarian situation of the local population, restricts their freedom of movement, and blatantly violates their fundamental rights.”

But it also does something else.

Because language matters. Customs and border controls are things that exist between countries -- not within them.

Smuggling is something that occurs across international borders -- not inside them.

South Ossetia is, indisputably, legally part of Georgian territory.

But Russia's actions here advance the illusion and the fiction that it's not really part of Georgia at all.

We should call things what they are. Russia is setting up an illegal customs and border post deep inside Georgian territory.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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