Yesterday, Mikhail Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, informed the people of the complete control of central powers over Kodori Gorge. “Today Georgia has taken a serious step forward and for the first time in 13 years returned complete control over the territory of Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.” Now a legitimate Abkhazia government has been established in Kodori Gorge. President Saakashavili emphasized that Georgia does not intend to aggravate the situation and begin a confrontation. “We are in favor of a peaceful settling of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict,” said the Georgian leader.
What has the insurgent plenipotentiary achieved? From the interview with Emzar Kvitziani, broadcast yesterday by a Georgian television channel, it appears that his goal was a full-force armed conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia. The interview took place only a few hours before the beginning of the special operation in Kodori Gorge. Kvitziani declared that he consciously set out to aggravate relations with Tbilisi, in order to force the powers to send police forces to the gorge: “I allow them to enter without any resistance, but then I close off their way back, we will fire from behind, and in front of them will be the Abkhazi troops. Let them fight and we’ll see how brave they are.”
These words confirmed the validity of the apprehension amongst the powers of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. People in unrecognized republics are sure that the operation in Kodori Gorge represents the beginning of the realization of Tbilisi ’s plans for the restoration by force of Georgian territorial integrities lost in the early 1990s.
Representative of the parliamentary committee for the defense of Georgian national security Targamadze has already announced that a considerable part of the lost territory is being returned to the country for future victories, noting the strategic importance of Kodori Gorge. It takes only five minutes to fly from there to Sukhumi by helicopter and there is direct access to Gagra.
Georgian powers took forceful measures in the gorge after former representative president Emzar Kvitziani announced the insubordination of Tbilisi. In fact, the ceremony proved incomplete: Mr Kvitziani himself went into hiding and the authorities offered a reward of 100 thousand Lari (around 55 thousand dollars) for any information on his whereabouts. In Georgia , the rumor spread that the insurgent was intending to hide in Russia and that his detachment was active on the Kabardino-Balkaria side. Russian frontier guards are located on this part of the border with Georgia in a reinforced regime. “We are considering all the possible turns that events may take. The head of the regional government has already given corresponding orders,” informed Sergei Livantsov, the head of the press service of the Russian security service regional governing body for the Southern federal region.
According to official statistics, Emzar Kvitziani and approximately fifty of his armed supporters hid yesterday in caves in the village of Zemo Azhara. As soon as a haze began to appear over the gorge, the police began to confiscate weapons in already controlled Georgian villages, including Kvitziani’s home town of Chkhalta. A sister of the rioters appeared on television claiming that during the searches, the village had been bombed and a civilian had been killed. Georgian newspaper Georgian Times informed that seven supporters of Emzar Kvitziani had been killed and 23 were wounded. In Tbilisi, these accounts were not officially confirmed or disconfirmed.
The Georgian opposition agrees that Kvitziani’s actions are anti-state but continue to insist that the authorities could end the crisis via negotiations. “The authorities do not care about the people, they are resorting to terrorism. Any citizen may be implicated in this,” representative of the People’s party Mamuk Georgazde informed journalists. David Usupashvili, leader of the republicans, traces the events back to Russia. In his words, “what is happening in Kodori Gorge is only one component of a multi-faceted plan prepared in Moscow. The Georgian authorities have yielded to the provocations. And they have fallen into the trap. Next, in my opinion, will be the appearance of other people taking on important roles, such as the former Minister of State Security Igor Georgadze.”
Translated by Leila Wilmers
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