|RFE/RL March 28 2002
DUMA ECHOES RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CLAIMS THAT GEORGIA IS PREPARING TO ATTACK ABKHAZIA... The Russian State Duma adopted a statement on 22 March in response to repeated Georgian allegations that Islamic militants have found refuge in Abkhazia, Russian and Georgian news agencies reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the Georgian allegations in a strongly worded statement the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2002). The Duma statement accused Georgia of seeking to prepare public opinion for a military intervention in Abkhazia. It advocated talks on the situation in Abkhazia between Duma and Georgian parliament deputies. It also called on the Russian government to provide economic and humanitarian aid to both Abkhazia and the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia. LF
...AS GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DENY ANY SUCH INTENTION... Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze on 22 March affirmed that Georgia "will not carry out a special antiterrorist military operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Caucasus Press reported. He added that "there is no alternative to a peaceful political settlement of the conflict. Georgia does not want to be blamed for regaining Abkhaz by force." On 25 March, President Eduard Shevardnadze similarly said in the course of his traditional Monday radio broadcast that "Georgia is not preparing for a war in Abkhazia." Interfax on 23 March quoted Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze as telling journalists in Tbilisi that talks on resolving the Abkhaz conflict peacefully should be continued, as such negotiations "are cheaper" than a new war. LF
...AND ABKHAZ LEADERSHIP UNCONVINCED. The Abkhaz Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 23 March interpreting the resolution adopted by the Georgian parliament on 21 March, which described Abkhazia as a refuge for international terrorists, as evidence that Georgia seeks to prepare the public for the beginning of an armed campaign against Abkhazia under the pretext of an antiterrorist struggle, Caucasus Press reported. The Abkhaz statement charged that it is in fact Tbilisi that sponsors state-level terrorism. It noted that the 21 March Russian Foreign Ministry statement condemned the Georgian authorities for transporting "international terrorist groups" from the Pankisi Gorge to the Kodori Gorge where they launched "a large-scale attack" on the local population, and for their alleged support for Georgian guerrilla detachments operating in the Abkhaz conflict zone. The Abkhaz statement appealed to Russia and the UN to take urgent measures to prevent destabilization. LF
|Abkhaz PM warns of "wider" conflict in
2002 MOSCOW, March 21 (AFP
The leader of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia warned Thurdsay that any new conflict over his enclave would be "wider" than a deadly 1992-1993 war and could draw in both Russia and the United States. Anri Dzhergeniya said Georgia's stance on Abkhazia had beome "tougher" since Washington announced last month that it was sending up to 200 troops to Tbilisi to train the security forces hunting down alleged terrorists in the region, Russian media reported.
The stated object of the US military aid is to track down al-Qaeda fighters believed to be hiding out in the remote Pankisi gorge, which borders Chechnya, but the Abkhaz authorities fear Tbilisi could also target the breakaway region.
Dzhergeniya said Russia, which backed Abkhazia in the 1992-93 conflict, also had interests in the region.
Several thousand people were killed in fighting that broke out in August 1992 following Abkhazia's declaration of independence from Georgia.
The conflict continued until September 1993, by which time some 250,000 Georgians had fled the separatist region.
|GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON
RFE/RL Liz Fuller March 22 2002
Following two days of inconclusive debate on 14-15 March, deputies voted unanimously on 20 March in favor of a toughly worded 13-point resolution on Abkhazia, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. The preamble accused the Russian peacekeeping force deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone under the CIS aegis of failing to fulfill its mandate, and of functioning instead as "frontier guards" between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia; claimed Abkhazia has become "a haven for international terrorists" and a base for drugs and arms trafficking; and accused the Abkhaz leadership of refusing to cooperate with the UN and OSCE.
The resolution repeats the parliament's demand of 11 October 2001 that the Russian peacekeepers be withdrawn; that those persons guilty of the "genocide" of the Georgian population of Abkhazia be brought to justice; that the international community inspect the Russian military base at Gudauta to determine whether Russia has complied with its commitments to withdraw weaponry from there; and condemns Russia's waiving for residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of the visa requirement that obtains for all other Georgian citizens. At the same time, it calls on the parliament's Provisional Committee to draft a resolution by 30 June on how to resolve the Abkhaz conflict; calls on the Georgian president and government to assess compliance with previously signed decrees and agreements on Abkhazia; and affirms that "Georgia will not resort to military force as long as the possibility of a peaceful solution of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict exists." LF
...AND CRITICIZES RUSSIAN STATE DUMA
...AS FALLOUT FROM PEACEKEEPERS' ABDUCTION
5 October. ApsnyPress
Units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Abkhazia regained control over the village of Georgievskoe of the Gulrypsh region, pushing the units of Georgian and Chechen militants into the deep of the Kodor Gorge. The discovered bodies of four local civilians killed by the militants during their retreat were brought to Sukhum. One officer of the Abkhaz army was killed during the operation, one soldier is missing. Three militants were captured, among them two Georgians and one Chechen.
The Abkhaz military officials think that this incursion of Georgian and Chechen militants into Abkhazia was designed as a maneuver step to cover the penetration to Abkhazia of the units of the Georgian secret services. The observers note the concentration of Georgian military formations in the adjacent to Abkhazia Zugdidi region of Georgia, as well as in the Kodor Gorge.
6 October ApsnyPress
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Georgia Dieter Boden in his interview to the Abkhazian TV appealed to Georgian power ministries to fulfill agreements reached during the meeting of the Prime Minister of Abkhazia and the President of Georgia.
8 October From the Statement of the Russian
8 October 2001, Moscow
8 October, ApsnyPress
On the morning of 8 October the helicopter of the UN military observer mission was shot down in the Kodor Gorge. All 9 passengers on board of the helicopters were killed. The eyewitnesses - the soldiers of the Abkhaz army who were at their post at the time of the incident, allege that the helicopter was downed from the missile launched from the site of the concentration of Georgian and Chechen militants in the Kodor Gorge. The passengers on board were 6 members of the UN observer mission (citizens of France, Germany, Hungary, among them), an interpreter and 3 Ukrainian crew members.
The Statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of the Transdnestrian Moldavian Republic expressed concern of the news of aggression against Abkhazia from the side of the Georgian and Chechen units which led to human casualties. The Foreign Ministry appealed top the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Karabakh Republic and South Ossetian Republic with a proposal to immediately take adequate measures aimed at the repulsion of the aggression.
Representatives of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic expressed their concern with the fact of the participation of representatives of the North Caucasus among the terrorists. The Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba met the representatives of Karachay Cherkessia, in particular Kambiz Evgamukov and Musa Daurov, who arrived to Abkhazia in connection with the situation in the Kodor Gorge. The representatives of Karachay-Cherkessia stressed that they could not look indifferently at the fate of Abkhazia and expressed their readiness in any moment to provide assistance to Abkhazia and take adequate measures.