Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze announced on Monday that, after all official procedures have been carried out, Georgia will hand over to Russia 13 Chechens who were captured during an anti-criminal operation in the Pankisi Gorge. He also said that 'the prisoners are unlikely to be handed over to a third country'. 'I don't think that any other country will agree to take the Chechen fighters,' added Shevardnadze.
Georgian border guards detained 13 armed Chechens near the Russian-Georgian border between September 3 and 5. They were ordered to be detained for three months by a court in Tbilisi. Russia has repeatedly called on Georgia to hand over the captured fighters, but so far Georgia has refused to do so, referring to a lack of documentation and to the need to carry out investigative procedures.