TBILISI/MOSCOW, October 28 (RIA Novosti) - Five Georgians have been detained in Georgia's Kareli Region bordering South Ossetia, Georgia's Imedi TV station reported Friday, but South Ossetia said the Georgians were detained on its territory.
The TV channel said the Georgians are accused of illegally crossing the border. No official Georgian comments have been available yet.
South Ossetian news agency Res cited the former Georgian republic's State Security Committee as saying "a regular group of violators" was detained on Monday morning by Russian border guards in South Ossetia when trying to cross into South Ossetia's Balta village.
The agency said the detained Georgians, residents of the Chvinisi village of the Kareli Region, insisted they were invited to work in South Ossetia. "A check established the information is false," the South Ossetian security committee said.
Another 16 Georgians were detained earlier on Monday in South Ossetia for illegally crossing the border. Georgia's Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to Russia on Wednesday, demanding the Georgians' immediate release.
"On October 26, Russian occupation troops, so-called border guards, kidnapped 16 Georgian citizens from the village of Gremiskhevi in Dusheti district, accusing them of illegally crossing the so-called 'border' with South Ossetia," the ministry said in the note handed over to Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Lorenzo Amberg.
Switzerland has represented Russia's interests in Georgia and Georgia's interests in Russia following a five-day war between Moscow and Tbilisi over South Ossetia in 2008. Georgia cut diplomatic ties when Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic.
According to South Ossetia's border officers, the Georgian citizens were detained in Leningorsky district after illegally crossing the border and chopping down trees.