-------------------- News from Abkhazia --------------------

 Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia get new chief of staff


Moscow, Major General Yevgeny Achalov has been appointed chief of staff of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, a Ground Forces spokesman said Wednesday.


"Achalov has replaced Colonel Alexei Pavlushko in this capacity," Igor Konashenkov said.


Gen. Achalov is a former commander of the 62nd Russian military base in Akhalkalaki, recently handed over by Moscow to Georgia as part of the complete withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgian territory.


Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that left hundreds dead in 1991-1992, and peacekeepers have been stationed in the region ever since.


There have been frequent and mutual accusations of ceasefire violations from both Abkhazia and Georgia, whose President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to regain control of the region.


Peace talks broke off when Tbilisi sent troops into Kodor Gorge in July last year and established an alternative Abkhaz administration there.


11.28.2008  Itar-Tass


 Voting in Russian parliamentary election over in 3 districts of Abkhazia


Sukhum, Early voting in Russia’s parliamentary election is over in three districts of the Republic of Abkhazia, where 80% of the population are holders of Russian passports.


Voting has been completed in the Gal, Tkuarchal, and Gulripsh district, and the voters displayed high electoral activity in spite of bad rainy weather, heads of district administrations told Itar-Tass by telephone.


Local authorities provided transport for those who could not come to polling stations on their own.


Abkhazia’s President Sergei Bagapsh cast a ballot at a polling station in the village of Agudzera in Gulripsh district.


Thursday, voting will be held in the Ochamchira district, while the Russian citizens living in the villages of Sukhum, Gudauta and Gagra districts will go to the polls Friday.


Sunday, polling stations will open in the capital Sukhum and the towns of Gudauta and Gagra.


All in all, eight polling stations have been opened in Abkhazia.


11.28.2008  Itar-Tass


 Saakashvili renews pledge to take over Abkhazia and South Ossetia


Tbilisi, Mikheil Saakashvili, the nationalist leader of Georgia who rose to power in 2003 in an American-backed public uprising, is renewing his past pledge to take over both Abkhazia and South Assetia.


Saakashvili announced plans to hold early elections in response to fierce opposition he faced. He handed his powers over to Parliament Speaker Nino Burcanadze because he had to resign as president to announce his candidacy for the post.


"I will take over the control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if I win a victory in the January 5 elections," Saakashvili said.


"What matters for me is not the preservation of my post as the president but the successful conduct of business that I think is important for ," Saakahsvili said. "The business to be done covers complete immunity on the part of Georgians to poverty, construction of regional totality and integration with Europe."


The Georgian Parliament granted approval in its extraordinary meeting on Sunday to the proposal from Saakashvili to hold presidential elections on January 5, 2008.


11.27.2007  Agency Caucasus


 European Abkhazians establish center for information


Düsseldorf, The Abkhazian Diaspora in Europe established in the German city of Düsseldorf the Abkhazian Center for Information and Culture in an attempt to convey information about Abkhazia to the West.


The establishment of the Center came after Chairman Guram Gumba of the Commission on International Relations in Abkhazian Parliament held several talks with representatives of the Abkhazian-Abazin Diaspora that live in different European cities.


Gumba was asked by representatives of the Abkhazian Diaspora to reply questions both about the political, economic and cultural developments in Abkhazia and the course of peace negotiations between Georgia and Abkhazia.


Information about the living conditions of, works by and relations to the motherland of the Diaspora came at the meeting from Ozkan Tarba, Alaaddin Kupalba, Kirgiz Ajuanba, Zeki Kapba (Member of the Council of the Worldcongress of the Abkhazian-Abazinian People) who are members of the Abkhazian Crisis Committee of Europe, a committee that has been active both since and during the 1992-1993 war between Abkhazia and Georgia.


Delighted with the improvement in relations with Abkhazia, the Abkhazian-Abazin representatives pledged organized work to get the voice of Abkhazia heard across Europe.


Khibla Amichba, Representative of Abkhazian Foreign Ministry in Germany, said that the diaspora representatives established the Abkhazian Center for Information and Culture to this end. Muharrem Tambiya was elected Chairman of the Center.


11.23.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Lavrov, UN top official discuss Kosovo, Georgia-Abkhazia conflict


Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has met with UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno in Moscow to discuss the situation in Kosovo and the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict settlement.


The UN top-ranking official is on a visit to Moscow to hold consultations with the Russian authorities, a Foreign Ministry official said on Friday.


“During the talks, Lavrov and Guehenno exchanged opinions on pressing problems on the international agenda, including the situation in Afghanistan and Darfur,” the official said.


“The parties also discussed UN peacekeeping operations, including Russia’s participation in these missions. This area of activities is important for resolution of regional crises and post-conflict restoration of the countries concerned,” the source said.


11.23.2007  Itar-Tass


 Abkhaz reporters think Russian parliamentary elections to be a farce and plan to ignore them


Abkhaz reporters think the elections to the Russian State Duma to be a farce and are going to ignore the voting on December 2. These are results of an improvised poll conducted by REGNUM among 30 Abkhaz journalists from eleven state-owned, independent and opposition media. They were asked whether they would vote and if they would, what party they would vote for. According to the outcomes of the poll, 28 people decided not to vote with only two, who said they would necessarily participate in the voting. It is worth mentioning, 80% of Abkhaz citizens have double citizenship – of Abkhazia and Russia.


The reporters tend to explain their skepticism like the following: “These are not our elections; we do not feel ourselves as citizens of the Russian Federation, so we do not feel our duty as citizens.” According to them, they received the Russian citizenship, because there was no other alternative: “With a Russian passport you can freely move around the world, nothing else, and the unrecognized status of our republic made us assume the second citizenship”. Besides, most Abkhaz journalists believe the election outcome is predetermined. “Anyway, whoever wins the race, the attitude towards Abkhazia will not change,” they note adding that this is the issue that interests them most as Russian citizens living in Abkhazia.


Five of the respondents were annoyed at the aggressive campaign on Russian federal television channels. This, they believe, reminds behavior of some Russian politicians during presidential elections in Abkhazia. Four of the respondents unanimously characterized the campaign to the Russian State Duma as “a real farce.” They cited lack of campaign by the parties in Abkhazia and stressed that they would ignore the elections because none of the leaders of the eleven Russian parties participating in the elections did anything good for Abkhazia. As they say, “Abkhazia still remains a buffer zone,” they believe.


Only one reporters of the two who would vote said he would go to the polling station and vote for United Russia Party, “i.e. for Vladimir Putin.” “He is a resolute person, and, hopefully, he will be able to something fundamental for Abkhazia,” the reporter said.


The Abkhaz reporters still plan to cover the voting process in the Abkhaz territory.


11.23.2007  REGNUM


 Moscow denies sending troops to Abkhazia


Moscow, Georgia's claims that Russian military units have been sent to Abkhazia are baseless, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.


"A special patrol of the UN Observation Mission in Georgia conducted immediate monitoring in the designated areas. The patrol found no military hardware. Local residents said they did not see any either," the ministry said.


11.15.2007  Interfax


 Abkhazia seeks promotion of its own products of alcohol and cigarette


Sukhum, The Abkhazian administration is seeking ways to encourage use of domestic products of alcohol and cigarette as a legal precaution against consumption of foreign products of the same kind.


The Abkhazian parliamentarians debated a draft bill about advertisements that make it illegal to advertise foreign products of alcohol and cigarette. If adopted, the bill will get signboards of advertisement for Russian and Ukrainian products removed from the Abkhazian streets.


Criticism was directed to unwillingness on the part of parliamentarians to take legal action against increasing consumption of alcohol in Abkhazia, however. Some parliamentarians argued that any kinds of advertisements for products of alcohol and cigarette had to be banned. The government is expected to modify the bill if it wants to guarantee parliamentarian approval for its full legislation.


11.15.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Sukhum declines to accept need for Russian weaponry


Sukhum, The Abkhazian administration responded to accusations from Georgia that Abkhazia took in heavy weaponry from Russia.


Garik Samanba, President of Abkhazian Parliament's Committee of Defense and National Security, said that Abkhazia would not need to import heavy armament from Russia because the country is capable of defending itself with its own weaponry.


Samanba said that the Georgian administration came up with such allegations because it tried to divert the attention it was getting while it had to deal with resistance from the opposition. "The democratic values of Georgia actually got damaged," said Samanba. "The Georgian administration is therefore trying to cover up this kind of damage to its democratic system of government amid allegations that Russian tanks were brought in to Abkhazia. It also aims at proving itself right, in discordance with the whole world."


David Bakradze, the Georgian statesman in charge of the conflict regions, said the day before yesterday that there was a move of armed troops in to Abkhazia. Sergei Chaban, the Peace Forces Commander of the Commonwealth of Independent States, however, disagreed with Bakradze's allegations.


11.15.2007  Agency Caucasus


 'Recognition of Abkhazia would start war'


Tbilisi, The Georgian administration tends to develop a linguistic code of wartime rhetoric against a possible retaliatory Russian move to recognize both Abkhazia and South Ossetia in case Kosovo gets recognized by the Western countries.


Givi Targamadze, President of the Georgian Parliament's Commission on Defense and Security, said that a possible recognition by Russia of Abkhazia as an independent state would be considered on the part of to be an announcement of war. Targamadze further said in his address in Parliament that the recognition of Abkhazia would make it easier for Russian President Vladimir Putin to take control of Abkhazia. "The Georgian administration will consider it to be an act of war if recognizes Abkhazia. Anything that happens to do in the region will get responded to."


This sort of forceful assertion of power came from the Georgian administration after as many as 200 Russian armed troops entered Abkhazia.


Matthew Bryza, a Senior Official of the United States Department of State, voice concern on behalf of his country about calls on to recognize Abkhazia. Bryza actually implied criticism of a call from Moscow Mayor Yuri Lujkov to recognize Abkhazia when he said that statements about the need to recognize Abkhazia would not be considered acceptable, because they were likely to cause damage. Bryza was ordered by the American administration to arrive in Tbilisi, the capital city of , to deal with a crisis that came after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced martial law in a bid to confine the opposition.


Bryza further said that he would not be able to confirm that Russian armed troops entered Abkhazia; however, he said that the Russian administration was notified of the American expectations from . Bryza also stressed the need on the part of to do its best in an attempt to preserve the territorial integrity of , but he nevertheless accused the Russian administration of using the current situation of to its own advantage.


11.14.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Tbilisi’s claims of Russian military build-up in Abkhazia provocation


Moscow, Georgian Deputy Minister for Conflict Resolution David Bakradze’s statement that a large amount of military hardware and personnel have been taken from Russia to Abkhazia is “a downright lie”, Deputy Commander of Russia’s Land Forces, Lieutenant-General Valery Yevnevich said on Monday.


“Such statements by official representatives of the Georgian authorities cannot be assessed as anything else but a provocation against the Russian peacekeepers in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and through them against Russia,” he said.


11.12.2007  Itar-Tass


 Georgia in US-financed arms race for war on Abkhazia, South Ossetia


Georgia is preparing for a US-financed war against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That is what the country's military build-up reveals, according to a leading journalist and political analyst from Geneva. Since the current regime took power, Georgian military spending has effectively increased by over forty times and now has the highest growth-rate of any country in the world.


Tskhinval, Despite not being at war with anyone, for the year 2007 the military budget of Georgia is showing the highest growth rate of any country in the world, with much of it being financed openly and directly by Washington.


As a result, fears run high in Tskhinval these days.


The capital of the small Republic of South Ossetia is increasingly seen as the next target of Georgian military aggression, and many here worry that it is only a matter of time before enemy troops unleash an assault on the city.


Some international analysts agree. Vicken Cheterian, a journalist and political analyst who works for the non-profit governance organization CIMERA, based in Geneva, says that "Georgia's military plans reveal its ambition to reclaim the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia it lost in the wars of the early 1990s."


The journalist, who is a regular contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, points out that since the "rose revolution" of 2003-04, Georgian military spending has effectively been increased by over forty times. The majority of Georgia's arms purchases are financed directly or indirectly from Washington. Salaries for Georgian soldiers have also repeatedly been paid for by American taxpayers.


" - According to the official goal of joining NATO, Georgia needs to modernize its army, train its soldiers, and build facilities for them," he writes in an article entitled Georgia’s arms race. "But observers in Tbilisi point that out patterns of spending suggest that Georgia has other projects apart from its NATO ambitions."


U.S. money behind Georgian arms build-up


According to Cheterian, the Georgian defence ministry announced in early May 2007 that it will sharply increase its current defence budget, from 513 to 957 million lari ($304m to $567m). This escalation follows an already impressive rise in defense spending since the "Rose revolution." This means that since the arrival to power of Mikheil Saakashvili, defence spending has continued on an upward spiral.


The arms build-up is financed by the United States, he writes in the article which was published by OpenDemocracy. The money started flowing in 2002 when an eighteen-month "train and equip" program with a total budget of $64 million was started to modernize four infantry battalions and one mechanized company.


" - The army also received significant training assistance as well as equipment from the United States military," he notes. "Georgia also received valuable equipment, such as ten UH-1 transportation helicopters from the US government. The value of the US military cooperation with the Georgian armed forces in 2007 is estimated at $34 million. As a result, some 16,000 troops are now considered trained by the US military."


Most of the military build-up is concentrated against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A modern, NATO-compatible barracks has just been built in Senaki in western Georgia not far from Abkhazia, and another one is under construction near Gori, a half-hour driving distance from Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia. According to the report, each of these bases will have the capacity to house a brigade, with a troop-strength of 3,000.


Peace in peril


Georgia's military plans have caused alarm among diplomats and others in the international community who prefer a peaceful coexistence of the various ethnic groups who inhabit the Caucasus region.


" - The fact that the two new barracks are close to the conflict-zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has led to concerns among both the de-facto governments of those two regions and the international community that seeks a peaceful resolution to these conflicts," explains Vicken Cheterian.


He also writes that there has been a continuous decrease of Russia's military presence parallel to the US-Georgian military cooperation.


" - The Russian military is continuing to empty its former Soviet base in Akhalkalaki, transporting equipment and ammunition into its base in Gumri, in northern Armenia. Akhalkalaki base is expected to be emptied by the end of the year, while the Russian base in Batumi the next year," he notes. "After this period the Russian presence will be limited to the CIS peacekeeping missions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."


" - Moscow is increasingly displeased to see the NATO and specifically US military presence becoming permanent in what once was part of its southern Soviet provinces."


In what some see as a quid pro quo arrangement, Georgia now uses its military to assist the United States in unpopular wars. In return for this favor, the United States continues to oppose the right of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to independence.


" - The recent announcement in Tbilisi to increase Georgian military participation in Iraq from 850 to 2,000 comes at a time when most European nations have already started withdrawing their troops, and the Bush administration is under political pressure in Washington to come up with its own schedule to decrease troops," explains Cheterian.


He also points out that another 150 Georgian military serve in Kosovo. This is an area where NATO-led troops keep Serbia out, and where the United States State Department is actively pushing for the right of self-determination to override the territorial integrity of a metropolitan state, Serbia.


11.11.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Lavrov denies claims of Russia's interference in Georgia


Moscow, Russia is not interfering in the internal affairs of Georgia but it is increasingly concerned about possible provocations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.


"We are not interfering in the internal affairs of Georgia or telling Georgian politicians what they should be doing or when. These are not our methods," Lavrov told a briefing in Moscow on Friday.


11.09.2007  Interfax


 Russia not dictating to Georgia what to do and when-Lavrov


Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated on Friday that Russia is not interfering in the internal affairs of Georgia and is not dictating to Georgian politicians what they should do and when, because “these are not our methods.”


The foreign minister also noted that Russia is above all concerned over the possibility of provocations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.


11.09.2007  Itar-Tass


 Russian ambassador worried by growing anti-Russian sentiments in georgian politics


Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko has expressed concerns over what he described as growing anti-Russian sentiments in the Georgian political environment.


"I am really alarmed by the fact that the anti-Russian theme is becoming predominant in Georgia's foreign policy," Kovalenko said in an interview with Interfax on Thursday.


"This will do nothing good," he said.


"Groundless accusations and statements by a number of Georgian politicians are having a negative effect not only on bilateral Russian-Georgian relations but also on the problem of the settlement of regional conflicts," Kovalenko said.


Speaking about Georgia's decision to expel three Russian diplomats, Kovalenko described it as unprecedented.


"This is an unprecedented provocation, when three of our diplomats are expelled from Georgia," Kovalenko said in a telephone interview with Interfax on Thursday.


"Allegations that Russian diplomats were involved in the opposition protest action could have been born only from an unsound mind," Kovalenko said.


"There is no evidence" to accuse Russian diplomats, he said.


Kovalenko says he has no doubt Russia will "take adequate measures" in reaction to the expulsion of its diplomats from Georgia.


"It is not today or yesterday that the anti-Russian campaign has been unleashed in Georgia. The Georgian side had no grounds for this," the diplomat said.


"It is well-known that the opposition that organizes mass protest actions spent the previous day and night in Washington in consultations on a large number of issues. And it is simply ridiculous to speak today about 'Moscow's arm' in the organization of anti-government actions, and about Russia's leading role in opposition protests, whose actions are simply laden with anti-Russian rhetoric," the ambassador said.


"The image that Russia is an enemy" is being created in Georgia, he said. "Now many Georgian politicians try to blame Russia for the domestic problems. This is not the best way to revitalize Russian-Georgian bilateral relations," Kovalenko said.


"The situation that is taking shape now does not help create a favorable climate for a constructive dialogue on settling regional conflicts," he said.


To arrange successful dialogue, "it is necessary to start with resolving problems on which agreement could be achieved relatively easily," Kovalenko said.


He described as "a good sign" a recent meeting in Tbilisi of the Joint Control Commission for the settlement of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict.


"It is necessary to move further toward resolving more complicated issues. This is the only right way. As for attempts to set up some parallel bodies or entertain ideas to resolve the problem through the use of force, this is a way to deadlock," he said.


As for possible attempts to resolve the South Ossetia and Abkhazia problems with force against the background of the destabilization of the sociopolitical situation in the country, Kovalenko said that this theory is being discussed in Georgian political circles. "There is a lot of talk on this issue," he said.


Kovalenko described such a scenario as "extremely undesirable."


"Everything possible should be done to avoid bloodshed, and in case of a military operation, there is going to be a lot of bloodshed," he said.


Military operations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia "will create a new heap of problems," he said.


11.08.2007  Interfax


 Luzhkov Urged to Recognize Abkhazia’s Independence


Moscow, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov urged Russia’s authorities to recognize independence of the Republic of Abkhazia. The mayor made the respective statement Thursday, during “Russia and Abkhazia: Towards Uniform Economic Territory” conference.


When it comes to Kosovo, Luzhkov said, everyone speaks of the right to sovereignty. For some reason, however, the sovereignty is inadmissible for Abkhazia.


The Moscow mayor also commented on today’s riots in Georgia. According to Luzhkov, Georgia’s problem is the bad luck with the president. From the outside, Luzhkov went on, Russia is witnessing “the insane oppression of the nation by authorities that are paid from overseas.” It is the question of policy of many standards, the mayor explained. “The United States supports Georgia, which Russia is allegedly offending.”


Luzhkov has been lambasting the policy of Mikhail Saakashvili since Rose Revolution. The mayor has always supported Abkhazia and South Ossetia that are the unrecognized republics, which official Tbilisi endeavors to return.


In August 2004, for instance, Luzhkov paid informal visit to Abkhazia despite Saakashvili's order to sink all ships appearing near its coast.


11.08.2007  Kommersant


 Russia Should Take Courageous Step and Recognize Abkhazia – Moscow’s Mayor


The Russian Government should take a courageous step and recognize Abkhazia, Yuri Lujkov, the Moscow mayor, said during the ‘ Russia and Abkhazia: towards a single economic space’ conference in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported.


"When the issue touch upon Kosovo then many planned forces of international policy means sovereignty. However, when the issue is about Abkhazia and South Osetia there are double standards,” Lujkov said. Russia always backs Abkhazia in efforts to improve its life as about 80 Abkhazian have the voluntary Russian passport which is one of the relevant issues. Lujkov considers the policy conducted by Georgian leaded Abkhazia to the verge of survival. However, currently there are tendencies in settlement of these economic problems. The Moscow mayor believes that Abkhazia to become a sovereignty. Russia is interested in gaining independence by Abkhazia. Russia needs Abkhazian resorts, trades, as well as economies of both countries are interconnected, Lujkov said.


Touching upon the Russian-Georgian relations, the Moscow mayor said that Russia watches apart the events occurred in the country as it is the Georgia and Georgians’ problem. We can see how the government suppresses mass rallies demanding resignation of the government, which is paid from abroad, Lujkov added. “We hope the current situation in Georgia to be settled through peace measures,” Lujkov said.


11.08.2007 Trend News


 Russia says "Istanbul Commitments" complied for Transdniestria, Abkhazia


Russia's military chief of staff Yuri Baluyevsky says that "Russia has long ago carried out all of its CFE obligations". This includes the alleged "Istanbul commitments" which Moldova has falsely portrayed as a requirement to leave Transdniestria without any Russian peacekeeping participation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also confirmed that his country has already complied with the treaty in full.


Moscow, It is Russia's view that the country has fulfilled its obligations under the alleged "Istanbul Commitments", consisting of amendments to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty which was renegotiated with NATO in Istanbul in 1999.


This means that the peacekeeping format will stay unchanged in Transdniestria, causing locals to breathe a collective sigh of relief after fears that they would have been left defenseless if Russia had been forced by the United States to withdraw its "blue helmets" from the buffer zone on the Dniester river. Russia has participated in a four-country multilateral peacekeeping force ever since a ceasefire was signed in 1992, following Moldovan attacks on civilians in Transdniestria.


" - Russia has long ago carried out all agreements made in Istanbul which are related to the CFE treaty," Russia's military chief of staff, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, told the State Duma (lower house of Parliament) in Moscow on Wednesday.


The Duma voted to suspend the treaty which dates back to the Soviet era and is considered outdated by military analysts. Until now, the treaty has been signed and ratified by Russia, which has observed its provisions to the letter. No NATO member country has ever ratified it, and the West has therefore not adhered to the rules stipulated by the treaty. This, says Russia, is one-sided and unfair.


" - Foreign states will control our operations on our own territory," a high-ranking source told the Izvestia daily.

Russia's military chief of staff, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, said that Russia inside its own national borders, must have the right "to reposition, deploy and create forces where needed to protect the interests and security of our country."


Istanbul commitments complied with in full


Under revised conditions which the West imposed on Russia during the Boris Yeltsin presidency, Russia was allegedly supposed to remove all military personnel from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria, three "frozen conflict" zones bordering Georgia and Moldova, respectively. This is how NATO and its partner, Moldova, portrays the so-called Istanbul Commitments. Russia does not agree with this interpretation.


The treaty, which the West has never ratified, has been complied with in full, says General Yuri Baluyevsky, and that includes the Istanbul amendments.


According to him, as far as Moldova is concerned, Russia fulfilled its obligations completely before the deadline of November 2001. By that time, it had reduced its conventional armaments in the region to zero.


Since 1999, Russia has withdrawn armaments, munitions and personnel from Transdniestria (Pridnestrovie). There are no troops in Moldova, and the only troops which remain in Transdniestria today are dedicated to peacekeeping duties under the ceasefire agreement signed by Moldova in 1992, as well as to guarding an old ammunitions dump.


Foreign Ministry agrees


The official position of Russia's Foreign Ministry is the same: Russia has kept its commitments under the revised CFE treaty and does not need to do anything more in relation to Transdniestria or Abkhazia.


" - Russia fulfilled all its obligations, including the stay of troops and military bases in Georgia and Moldova, as well as the ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty,” Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told official news agency Itar-Tass on 7 November.


Meanwhile, a source in the U.S. Department of State said that the United States requires Russia to take away weapons and peacekeepers from Transdniestria, as a condition for letting NATO ratify the treaty. But the chief Russian negotiator at the 1999 Istanbul talks says that this is "a cunning and perfidious position."


Leonid Ivashov, currently the president of the Russian Geopolitical Studies Academy, says that "the United States sets an unfeasible ultimatum to Russia by linking the CFE ratification with the demand to withdraw Russian troops from Georgia and Transdniestria."


" - I headed the working group at the summit in Istanbul in 1999. I can confirm that the two joint statements signed by Russia with Georgia and with Moldova really helped the Adapted CFE’s success. The current situation is such that Russia will completely withdraw from Georgia by the end of the year," Ivashow told Kommersant.


" - Meanwhile, the situation in Transdniestria is absolutely different. There are huge deposits of armaments and ammunition. Moreover, the ammunition’s expiry date passed long time ago. Russia keeps forces of around 1,500 people there, just to guard that unsafe military equipment so as to prevent technogenic disaster. There also is a political reason: the current Transdniestrian authorities do not agree to the armaments removal. And here is the U.S. setting an ultimatum to Russia. It is a cunning and perfidious position," he stated.


11.07.2007 Tiraspol Times


 Saakashvili involved in October incident with Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia - Baluyevsky


Moscow, The possibility that the incident involving Russian peacekeepers that took place in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone in late October 2007 was masterminded with the participation of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, is not ruled out by Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Yury Baluyevsky.


"This was an act of provocation. One of those who took part in the provocation was President Saakashvili," Baluyevsky told journalist in Moscow on Wednesday.


11.07.2007  Interfax-AVN


 Europe not ready to give impartial assessment to frozen conflicts


Sukhum, “The European community is not ready give impartial assessment to frozen conflicts, Abkhazian Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said when commenting on the Berlin hearings on frozen conflicts.


Europe’s nonconstructivity is proved by the fact that representatives of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh are not present at the Berlin conference, according to him.


“Such an approach can lead to bloodshed,” he stated.


“The unrecognized republics will continue pressing for recognition of their independence. It doesn’t matter whether South Caucasus representatives will hold discussions without participation of principal parties to conflict,” he said adding that ‘West manifests adherence to double standards’, IA Regnum reports.


11.06.2007  PanArmenian


 De-facto independent countries to ask EU, UN for statehood recognition


Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia will ask the European Union and the United Nations to formally recognize their 'de facto' independence. During a joint summit on the Black Sea coast, the presidents of the three new states also pledged to help each other resolve disputes peacefully and democratically. They warned that a departure of peacekeepers would lead to new conflicts.


Sukhum, Three "de facto" independent countries — Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria — are expected to ask the United Nations and the European Union for recognition of their statehood.


This was made clear during a meeting in Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast, between the presidents of new and emerging states. In a joint statement, they also pledged to deal with any military threat jointly and accused Georgia of trying to discredit Russian peacekeepers and inflame tensions in the republics' conflict zones.


The joint statement came at a two-day summit of the three unrecognized states that opened on Sunday in the Abkhazian capital Sukhum, the international satellite channel RT-TV reported.


During the meeting, the leaders of the "de facto" independent states signed the fundamental agreement of a joint union and charter as well as a number of cooperation documents.


Later they are also expected to sign an appeal to the European Union and the United Nations to formally recognize their independence.


Alliance for democracy and peoples’ rights


The commonwealth of self-proclaimed states (officially: Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations) was formed in June last year calling for democracy, and peoples’ rights. Besides sharing common political goals, member states of the commonwealth co-operate in economic affairs, culture and education.


" - The most important thing for us today is that we are strengthening the legal framework of our alliance for democracy and peoples’ rights. I am satisfied with the meeting’s results. Its task was to create conditions for the further prosperity of our republics and the earliest recognition of their independence," said South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity.


In the early 1990s, the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia, who responded by sending troops to these areas in an attempt to subdue to independence-minded population. War broke out, resulting in thousands of people dead.


An estimated three hundred thousand people fled the breakaway republics before Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeepers from the former Soviet republics managed to halt the war.


Peacekeepers will stay


Today, peacekeepers are still stationed at the borders for the safety of the population. Georgia has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the peacekeepers. But since their mission is sanctioned by the UN Security Council and an agreement with the CIS, the troops remain.


" - The Republic of Abkhazia stands firm: we are categorically against the idea that the Russian peacekeepers should leave the conflict zone. Everybody must realize that their departure will inevitably lead to a new conflict," Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh said.


Transdniestria has no no conflict with Georgia, but suffered a similar war after Moldova sent troops to enforce its territorial claim on the republic. Transdniestria (officially: Pridnestrovie) declared independence from the now-defunct Moldavian SSR in 1990, one year before the current Republic of Moldova was founded.


Two thirds of Transdniestria's population are ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, but its ethnic Moldovan minority - the remaining third - is also overwhelmingly in favor of independence and does not wish to join Moldova. In the summer of 1992, more than a thousand people died as a result of Moldovan attacks before the war was stopped with the intervention of peacekeepers.


" - We will defend our right to live on our land, a right to our language and our culture just as our ancestors did," said Transdniestria's President Igor Smirnov. "This is what the people of the Republic of Pridnestrovie said at the referendum on 17 September 2006."


11.05.2007  Tiraspol Times


 PMR Parliament: "Unwise to solve Pridnestrovie’s issues from Chisinau"


The Speaker of Pridnestrovie's Parliament says that "it is unwise to resolve Pridnestrovie’s issues sitting there in Chisinau". Yevgeny Shevchuk wants Pridnestrovie to have a say in the way that its own future is being shaped. "Considering our previous experience, we can say that unilateral proposals are likely to be unconstructive," he emphasized.


Tiraspol, Parliamentary Speaker Yevgeny Shevchuk is open to setting up joint working groups with Moldova for solving individual issues of interest to both governments. Last week, Moldova already unilaterally created a total of seven working groups in Chisinau, without asking Pridnestrovie to participate in them and without asking for Pridnestrovie's opinions first.


The groups set up in the Republic of Moldova aim to implement the Moldovan regime's initiatives for Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict resolution.


In response to this, Shevchuk said that it was rather positive that statements made by the government of Moldova are not overtly aggressive in their nature.


In an earlier interview given in late October, Parliamentary Speaker Yevgeny Shevchuk warned that unilateral actions usually cause aggression. He urged Moldova to scrap a law on Pridnestrovie's future that was passed without any sort of consultation with Pridnestrovie. The young opposition leader said that future relations should be based on mutual respect between the two sides.


"Unwise" to solve Pridnestrovie's problems without Pridnestrovie's participation


According to the Speaker, the problems could be efficiently resolved in the buffer zone, in the area of the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict, if Moldova would allow Pridnestrovie to also send its own representatives to the conflict resolution groups.


" - I think it is unwise to resolve Pridnestrovie’s issues sitting there in Chisinau. We still do not know in what areas the groups are specialized, or what their aims really are. We know that certain working groups were established earlier, specializing in the field of economy and other fields and they worked out a package of mutually agreed proposals, though these proposals are not implemented and aren't even mentioned anymore. Considering our previous experience, we can say that unilateral proposals are likely to be unconstructive and are likely to not have the result that our citizens expect, or that the gurantor-countries and the international community in general expect."


Too early to talk of peacekeeping changes


The 39 year old Speaker singled out Russian involvement in peacekeeping activities in the buffer zone. Russia is one of four countries contributing troops to a small multinational force of peacekeepers who have successfully ensured that current ceasefire has been kept. Since Moldova signed the ceasefire and ended its attacks against Pridnestrovie in 1992, no single life has been lost in the conflict, and the Moldovan military has abstained from any further incursions into Pridnestrovie's territory.


" - The government of the republic has always expressed their gratitude to Russia, first of all, to Russia’s citizens and peacekeepers who have always supported us not in words but in deeds, and who separated the conflicting parties here on the banks of the Dniester river. They are defenders of the life of both the Pridnestrovians and also defenders of the life of the Moldovan citizens living in the security zone, and that is why we are deeply grateful for the role they play in the territory of Pridnestrovie, of Moldova, and in the buffer zone."


Although Moldova has flouted suggestions for dismantling the peacekeeping effort - and, in effect, breaking the terms of the ceasefire agreement - Pridnestrovie's Speaker of Parliament firmly supports the current format of the peacekeeping operation in the buffer zone between Pridnestrovie and Moldova.


" - The tension in the buffer zone is still high, although the situation is under control. But I think we should not discuss any changes to the current format or withdrawal of peacekeeping forces since that doesn’t help to bring about conditions for stable progress in this situation. Of course, if the political situation and relations with Moldova were stable, and if we had a reliable way of guarantees to be overseen by the guarantor-countries, then we could discuss more simple procedures. But at this stage I frankly think it is too early to discuss any changes to the peacekeeping format."


A right to exist


According to Yevgeny Shevchuk, the inhabitants of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie have already asserted their right to exist. But since they are not yet recognized by the international community, they are facing many of the same problems.


" - It is necessary to ensure the functioning of the state, to keep up certain social standards of living when the economic conditions are difficult and the economy is unable to support the state," said Yevgeny Shevchuk. Comparing Pridnestrovie to Abkhazia and to South Ossetia, he added: "We have similar problems with passports, border crossing, etc. That’s why at a certain stage the presidents of three states made a decision to establish the commonwealth to coordinate efforts, to achieve our shared goal: to obtain international recognition. We also have agreements to provide help to each other if necessary," Shevchuk said.


" - Recently, PMR's Parliament passed a decision to offer tax relief for transactions between companies from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie. We’re trying to promote economic integration between these three new republics. We understand that it is not easy for our colleagues and friends from Abkhazia and Ossetia to solve their economic problems, and nor is it easy for us," said Shevchuk, who is a firm believer in the power of free markets and open trade agreements to help bring prosperity to poorer countries.


" - I hope that our colleagues will follow our example and that together we can create a favorable environment, and that this will give a spur to economic cooperation between our states," said Shevchuk. Unlike Pridnestrovie, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not yet offering tax incentives to local companies who trade with the other unrecognized states.


A fourth unrecognized country, Nagorno-Karabakh, has observer status in the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations. Of these four unrecognized countries on the post-Soviet space, Pridnestrovie has a larger population than all the other three together. Pridnestrovie's economy is also stronger than the economies of the other three put together. On a per-capita basis, it is also stronger than some of the internationally recognized entities of the former Soviet Union, such as that of nearby Moldova, a proportionally poorer country.


11.05.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Abkhaz, Transdniestrian, S. Ossetian ministers urge intl community to recognize independence


Sukhum, Foreign Ministers Sergei Shamba of Abkhazia, Valeri Litskay of Transdniestria, and Murad Dzhioyev of South Ossetia signed a joint declaration at a meeting in Sukhum on Saturday, in which they reaffirmed the self-proclaimed republics' resolve "to follow the norms and principles stipulated by the UN Charter and other international legal acts determining the contemporary world arrangement."


"The people's right to self-determination is a sovereign and unalienable right of the peoples of Abkhazia, Transdniestria, and South Ossetia, and ignoring the people's will should be viewed as a violation of human rights guaranteed by international legal documents," the declaration says.


The ministers also called for "settling all disputable issues exclusively through peaceful methods and without using military, political, economic, or informational pressure."


"Over the time of Abkhazia's, Transdniestria's and South Ossetia's independent existence, they have set up efficient governance systems guaranteeing free exercise of human rights and stability of democratic government institutions," it says.


The foreign ministers "have called on the international community to respect sovereign rights of the peoples of these republics and support Abkhazia's, Transdniestria's and South Ossetia's recognition as sovereign states."


11.03.2007  Interfax


 Georgia expects Abkhazia to get recognized statehood in 2008


The speaker of Georgia's parliament expects Abkhazia and South Ossetia to receive international diplomatic recognition in 2008. This will be the result of a unilateral Kosovo declaration of independence, and American disregard for UN Security Council resolution 1244. In Russia, a Duma MP who agrees with this prediction says that Pridnestrovie will get recognition, too.


Tbilissi, Georgia's speaker said on Friday that she expects Abkhazia and South Ossetia to receive international diplomatic recognition early next year.


Speaking to opposition protestors who demanded early Georgian elections to topple the government of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burdzhanadze, the speaker of Georgia's parliament, said that "elections would not be timely" during a period when Abkhazia and South Ossetia are expected to have their 'de facto' independence recognized.


Official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the Georgian government expects Serbia's breakaway province Kosovo to receive independence next spring, and Russia to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia in response.


The two countries are already de facto independent republics and have all the prerequisites for international statehood except diplomatic recognition by other countries. Georgia maintains a long standing territorial claim to the two areas, who declared independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. Georgia has been unable to enforce it for the past fifteen years and the two new states are made up of populations which strongly favor independence over the rule of Georgia, with whom they fought bitter wars for independence in the past decade.


Group of friendlies


Kosovo will presumably only be recognized by a limited number of countries, led by the United States in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which affirms the sovereignty of the then Yugoslavia, to which Serbia is the successor state.


In the same way, Georgia only expects Abkhazia to get limited international recognition and not obtain United Nations membership immediately. Russia will be among the group of countries that will extend recognition to Abkhazia in 2008, and the move will be helped along by a "club of friendly countries" who will extend international diplomatic recognition as well.


This was explained in an interview with MP Konstantin Zatulin, Duma deputy and director of the Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Published this August, the influential foreign policy specialist said that recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie (Transdniestria) should be given by other countries first, and then by Russia in a second wave of adhesion.


" - It is necessary in the process of international negotiations to gather a unique "club" of countries that could recognize them, and such countries already exist. For instance, Belarus or Venezuela, whose parliament, by the way, sent election observers to Tskhinvali," he said.


11.03.2007  Tiraspol Times


 Abkhazia hopes intl community will help prevent war in region


Sukhum, The Abkhazian parliament said it is hoping that the international community "will take the necessary measures to prevent the unleashing of new war" in the region.


"The development of the situation in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict is assuming an increasingly dangerous character. The new aggravation of the situation was caused by the incident between the CIS joint peacekeeping forces and Georgian police in the village of Ganmukhuri on October 30, in Georgia's Zugdidi district," said the statement disseminated by the people's assembly of the republic of Abkhazia on Friday.


The Abkhazian parliament calls "the events in Ganmukhuri a well-planned provocation with the purpose of discrediting the collective peacekeeping forces and their subsequence squeezing out of the peacekeeping process."


"The CIS collective peacekeeping forces, together with the mission of UN military observers impartially and efficiently perform their tasks to maintain peace in the conflict zone, being the main stabilizing factor in the region. A change in the existing format of talks over the settlement may have unpredictable consequences not only in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, but in the whole region," the document underlined.


The parliamentarians proposed to the leadership to "urgently carry out events to ensure national security, and recommended talks with the Russian Federation over the deployment of CIS peacekeepers in the Abkhazian territory in case of their withdrawal from Georgia."


The new wave of tension is surging against the background of increasing militarization of Georgia, whose authorities pursue the objective of destroying the existing format of talks and effecting a forced solution of the problem."


Expressing deep concern over the aggravation of the situation in the conflict zone, the Abkhazian parliament states that such a development of events became possible not only because of "aggressiveness by Georgian leadership but also as a result of abetting on the part of the international community."


11.02.2007  Itar-Tass


 Growing provocations registered in Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone


Moscow, The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces has pointed to growing provocations against Russian peacekeepers in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian and the Georgian-South Ossetian conflicts, the first deputy head of the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Alexander Burutin told journalists on Friday.


“Provocations against Russian peacekeepers in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian and the Georgian-South Ossetian conflicts are increasing. This is an objective fact,” he said.


Speaking about a fire attack from Georgia against a Russian helicopter on October 30, he said “this is not the first provocation in the conflict zone.”


“We perceive them moderately, but this does not mean that we can get used to such situations,” Burutin said.


“The command of Russian peacekeeping contingents in Abkhazia and South Ossetia regularly informs us about facts of provocations. Heads of the CIS member-states also receive such information,” he said.


11.02.2007  Itar-Tass


Russia urges Georgia to prevent provocations in Abkhazia


Moscow, Russia's General Staff wants Georgia's leadership to prevent provocations in the conflict zone with Abkhazia, a senior army official said on Friday.


"The number of provocations in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone has increased - this is an objective fact... We hope that Georgia's leadership will take real, effective measures to prevent actions of forces aimed at frustrating the CIS peacekeeping mission," First Deputy Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Alexander Burutin said.


Burutin also said there is no need to take additional measures to defend Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone, where a dispute broke out between peacekeepers and Georgian police earlier this week.


The Russian peacekeepers detained five Georgian police officers on Tuesday in the village of Ganmukhuri, saying the Georgians had threatened to open fire on them. Georgia said Russian peacekeepers attacked the policemen and beat them up. The policemen were released after the Georgian president arrived in the area to intervene.


"As yet, [additional steps] are not necessary. But, as is known, Russia has repeatedly said it will take all measures to safeguard the lives and activities of its peacekeepers and citizens nationals in conflict zones," he told journalists.


Commenting on Georgia's demand to dismiss the current peacekeeping forces commander, Sergei Chaban, from his post, Burutin said his powers were established by the Council of CIS Heads of State. Such issues should be decided by the CIS councils of defense and foreign ministers, he said.


Georgia has repeatedly voiced its goal of regaining control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which declared independence in the early 1990s. It has also accused the CIS peacekeeping force, mainly represented by Russians, of backing Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


11.02.2007  RIA Novosti


 Abkhazia set to host talented children for contest


Sukhum, The Pitsunda city of Abkhazia is scheduled to host on November 3-7 talented children in groups of ten from across the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS for a talent contest, officially named “The Country of Lives.”


Abkhazia will for the first time host this kind of contest with organizational assistance from the foundation called “The Planet of Talents.”


The winner will be awarded 50,000 roubles.


The talent contest is largely expected to give the children an opportunity to get to know about Abkhazia and Abkhazians.


11.01.2007  Agency Caucasus


 Abkhazian administration allots funding for homecoming


Sukhum, The Abkhazian administration will allot 31 mln roubles from its entire budget to keep the homecoming of Abkhazian Diaspora on next year.


Half the budget allocated for promoting homecoming will be spent, according to the government’s plans, on constructing permanent houses. The other half will be used to meet various needs of the Abkhazian Diaspora after they return home.


11.01.2007  Agency Caucasus


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