Georgian Deputy Minister of State Security: Georgia Will Not Obstruct Return of Chechen Fighters to Russia - 27 September, 2002

According to Georgian Deputy Minister for State Security Lasha Natsvlishvili, Georgia will not obstruct the return of Chechen fighters to Russia. The deputy minister believes that if the fighters are able to reach Russian territory, 'this is Russia's problem, not Georgia's'.

Russian border guards have on several occasions detected the movement of Chechen fighters across that Russian-Georgian border. In connection with this, Russia has requested that Georgia either increase its efforts to restore order in the border zone, or agree to joint anti-terrorist operations. The Georgian authorities maintain that they are able to deal with illegal armed bands or individual fighters, who are located mainly in the Pankisi Gorge, without any outside help.

The Associated Press news agency yesterday announced that Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev had left Georgian territory with a group of fighters and is currently in Russia

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