Russian peacemakers left the upper part of the Kodori Gorge in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia. This was done on the request of the president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, who expressed his wish to Russian President Putin in a telephone conversation. The brief outline of the problem is the following: 78 peacemakers retrieved an observation post of the collective forces of the CIS in the Kodori Gorge on April 12. This post was earlier removed after a raid of Ruslan Gelayev's gang on Abkhazia. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the post was set up as the implementation of the protocol for the stabilization of the situation in the Kodori Gorge, which was signed by the representatives of Georgia, Abkhazia, the Collective Forces for Maintaining Peace, and a special representative of the UN secretary general for the settlement of the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia.
The deployment of the peacemaking force in the Kodori Gorge caused a hysterical reaction in the Georgian parliament. It was announcedon Friday morning that several hundred Russian commandos landed in the Kodori Gorge, in the Georgian settlement of Azhara. In its “address to the world community,” the Georgian parliament accused Russia of “aggression” against Georgia. The Georgian Armed Forces were placed on alert. Shevardnadze left for the Kodori Gorge to have a meeting with acting commander of the collective peacemaking forces, General Alexander Yevteyev. This meeting was held on the request of the Georgian president, while the Georgian soldiers took up positions close to observation post number 102.
Despite the legitimacy of the actions taken by Russia (which were approved of by Georgia as well, by the way), things were becoming more and more heated. Georgia suspended the negotiations between Russia and Georgia that devoted to the preparation of a friendship and cooperation treaty. On April 13, the positions of the Russian peacemakers in the Kodori Gorge were shot at by strangers. The same day, Georgia deployed a mortar unit close to the location where the Russian peacemakers were deployed. The situation wa close to war. The phone conversation between the presidents of Russia and Georgia helped to ease the situation to a certain extent.
The presidents discussed the situation of the collective forces for maintaining peace in the area of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in the Kodori Gorge. There was a certainty expressed that the normalization of the situation would help the collective forces to continue patrolling the territory for the sake of security in the region and according to the mentioned protocol of April 2, 2002.
There are pluses and minuses of the situation. One of its drawbacks is another batch of lies from the Georgian administration. Georgia made up the story of Russia’s aggression against Georgia, as it tried to conceal the deceit that was unveiled due to the Russian peacemakers. On April 12, the peacemakers patrolled the territory in the upper and lower parts of the Kodori Gorge, having discovered violations of the terms of the protocol by Georgia, on the territory of which Georgian troops should have been withdrawn from the region by April 10. The special representative of the UN secretary general will be informed of the fact of the violation. Georgia was not going to withdraw its troops from the gorge. The deceit would not have been unveiled if the Russian patrol had not come across the Georgian troops. That is why Georgia started talking about this “aggression,” thinking that the best way to defend is to attack.
A plus can be the fact that Eduard Shevardnadze publicly acknowledged his feebleness of influencing such situations. He cannot deter Georgian radicals without Moscow’s help. Russia has made the adequate conclusions for itself.
The controversy settled down to a certain extent after the Russian peacemakers left. However, the conflict has not vanished; it would be absurd to think such a thing. Abkhazia made a statement today: this republic observed its part of the contract and withdrew heavy artillery from the gorge.
If Georgia does not withdraw its troops from the Kodori Gorge of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia, then Abkhazia will be forced to deploy a part of its army into the gorge. This was said by Abkhazian Vice President Valery Arshba. He claimed that, since Georgia did not observe the protocol of April 2, then Abkhazia will have to deploy its forces in the gorge for security reasons.
Georgia made a statement in return: “If the Abkhazian government violates the achieved agreements and deploys its armed forces into the Kodori Gorge, then a tough response to those actions will follow immediately,” – spokesman for the Georgian Defense Ministry Mirian Kiknadze claimed.
The War Party, with its leaders David Tevzadze and speaker of the Georgian parliament Nino Burjanadze are excited, waiting for further events. The actions of the Abkhazian government are only good for them. No matter what the future situation shows, they do not need Shevardnadze anymore. The latter is aware of that, so he agrees to everything; he only wants the Kremlin to help him to stay at power.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov