Ethnic Georgians living in South Ossetia's contested Akhalgori District state that South Ossetian officials required them to take South Ossetian identification papers and vote in the breakaway region's May 31 legislative elections, Georgian media reported.
The residents told the Rezonansi newspaper that they had to take part in the polls to be allowed to stay in their houses. "We might as well go to vote, as we have no other choice," one unnamed ethnic Georgian said in the paper's June 1 article.
Several residents also called a show on Tbilisi's Maestro television channel to inquire if the Georgian government will cast them as traitors if they agree to take the identification papers. Representatives of the breakaway government in Tskhinvali could not be reached by phone to comment. A spokesperson for the European Monitoring Mission in Tbilisi told EurasiaNet that the mission had heard about the reports and is "trying to get to the bottom of it."
In March 2009 interviews with EurasiaNet, Internally Displaced Persons from Akhalgori had denied Georgian media reports that they were being forced to take Russian or South Ossetian passports.