PRAVDA.Ru journalist interviewed Russian honored aviator, Hero of Russia, member of the Duma’s defense committee Yeugeny Zelenov
- Yeugeny Alexeyevich, why do you think the USA says it will carry out an anti-terrorism operation on the post-Soviet area, in Georgia and Abkhazia? The USA says, bin Laden may be hiding in the Pankissky gorge.
Problems of the Caucasus are very complicated, especially in Abkhazia and South Osetia. Georgia is a sovereign country, it takes a lot of time for it to recover its limits and borders.
Last year the USA held manoeuevres and landing operations in the Caucasus, after which equipment was left in the area.
- Do you agree that America is striving for universal domination? Does not it look as demonstration of the US’s will in the Caucasus region?
Certainly, America has got plans of this kind. To my mind, Russia’s attitude to the problem is to be strict, as it is connected with its security and safety of the borders. Georgia and the Caucasus region make up the sphere of Russia’s geopolitical interests.
Russia should address the neighboring states. Georgia’s President Eduard Shevardnadze is a venal person who is little respected. At the same time Georgian politicians are helpless till next presidential elections. They want to avoid a political crisis in the country. As for the Russian politicians, the Duma plans to take up the problem at its plenary session. Georgia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty, that is why it can not make such decisions on its own. The governments, power structures and parliamentary assembly of the CIS are also to consider the situation.
- Do you think Anatoly Kvashnin’s instruction on withdrawal of the Russian troops from Abkhazia was a well-planned policy or his independent actions?
It is a problematic subject, as it can be considered a betrayal of the state. I think, the man will go down in history. Such decisions can be made by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief who is in charge of the state security, political authorities State Duma and Federation Council should not remain aloof from the problem as well. The problem requires an open and frank discussion.
- Do you think military men can make such decisions independently?
Large-scale, important decisions are made by all senior commanders. But we do have people who pass decisions independently, and afterwards inform the higher authorities.
- Whose interests do you think the operation in Georgia really defends? Will the USA really liquidate the terrorists?
There are only 300 or 400 militants in the area. The USA will deliver troop-carriers and special forces to Georgia for struggle with the terrorists, Georgian soldiers will be instructed by US experts. I can hardly believe that Georgian servicemen need any instructions for fighting in their native mountains. They know the place perfectly well. The USA is purposing one objective only: they want to strengthen its positions with the troops on Georgia’s territory.
- Do you think there are some politicians in Russia who would welcome another Caucasus conflict?
Nothing is groundless. There are two sides to any situation: some are more active and others are not. I think, the time will tell, who is following personal interests in the black deeds.
- How will the Duma react to the events?
I think, the Duma’s reaction will be very strict, it may even suggest announcement of sovereignty for Abkhazia and South Osetia. In accordance with the agreements, withdrawal of the troops is the matter of concern for many states. Russia’s interests are protected at the place where our soldiers are stationed. If US troops are stationed in Abkhazia, that will mean that US’s interests are protected there.
- Do you think withdrawal of the Russian troops from Abkhazia may entail a third conflict in the Caucasus region, or even a further international conflict?
This may also occur. The military training is carried out for Shevardnadze to perform his mission.
Yeugeny Zelenov was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/16/38301.html