ZUGDIDI, DFWatch–Most of the school graduates from Abkhazia who were stuck at Enguri bridge on their way to exams eventually managed to get through on Monday, DFWatch was told by several of them.
However, some teenagers are still stranded at the only point of crossing between the breakaway republic and Georgia proper.
Due to the sensitivity of the situation and the safety of the teenagers, DFWatch refrains from reporting the details of Monday’s events. Although some tried to escape by using informal paths, most of them were able to leave Abkhazia via the checkpoint controlled by Sokhumi.
The exact number of those who found their way across, as well as those still stranded, is unknown. The former group consists of a dozen teenagers, both boys and girls, while the latter is much smaller.
Some of them took their first exams on Monday, while the others will have them on Tuesday.
Enguri checkpoint, the sole passage between Abkhazia and Georgia proper, was closed on June 28 in the wake of anti-Russian, anti-government rallies in Tbilisi. The passage was closed for almost everyone except the staff of Enguri hydro electric plant. Among those who were stuck were dozens of Gali public school graduates who were on their way to territory controlled by Georgian authorities to take the Unified National Exams, which are mandatory for those who want to enroll at Georgian higher educational institutions.
The town of Gali and surrounding villages are populated predominantly by ethnic Georgian who prefer universities in Tbilisi and other cities in Georgia over Sokhumi higher educational institutions.
Several youth who tried to sneak out of Abkhazia illegally were caught by Russian troops who control the administrative borderline (ABL) and handed over to Abkhazian law enforcers, one of the teenagers who managed to make her way out said to DFWatch. They’ll be freed immediately after their parent pay the fines, she added.
“After the ‘border’ was closed, we came there every day hoping to pass. Today we came as normal. Altogether there were about 30 graduates,” another teenager told DFWatch, adding that the border personnel suddenly let them out.
130 residents of breakaway Abkhazia’s Gali district enrolled at universities in Georgia proper in 2018. Altogether 256 young people from Gali have registered for the Unified National Exams.