Georgia Kills Two Russian officers in Disputed Clash - 2007

The downward spiraling of Russo-Georgian relations continues unabated. I am sure that the news about Vladimir Putin staying in power after next year's elections in Russia is not being taken too lightly in Tbilisi.



Georgia Kills Two Russian officers in Disputed Clash


Georgia and Russia clashed at the United Nations on Wednesday over an incident in which Georgian security forces killed two Russian officers training insurgents in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told the U.N. General Assembly that one of those killed in the September 20 "law enforcement operation" was a Russian army lieutenant-colonel. Pointing an accusing finger at Moscow, he said: "One has to wonder -- what was a vice-colonel of the Russian military doing in the Georgian forests, organizing and leading a group of armed insurgents on a mission of terror?" Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters Georgian troops had made an unprovoked attack on an "anti-terrorist training" exercise in a camp in the Kodori gorge and finished off two Russian instructors with knives and shots to the head. "They have done everything to aggravate tensions," Churkin said. The Kodori gorge, a gateway to the Black Sea province of Abkhazia, has enjoyed de facto independence since 1993. Relations between Moscow and the former Soviet republic have been tense ever since Saakashvili came to power in a U.S.-backed "Rose Revolution" in early 2004. Russia cut transport and trade ties with Georgia last year after Tbilisi arrested four Russian military officers accused of spying and paraded them on television. In August, Georgia accused Moscow of dropping a missile on its territory. The Russian airforce has denied it violated Georgian air space. "This reckless and dangerous pattern of behavior must not continue," Saakashvili said in his U.N. speech.


Whatever the explanation for the latest Abkhazia incident, he said, Georgia regretted any loss of life and would do everything possible to "avoid violence and further hostility and confrontation." Abkhazia is not the only region where Russian-backed separatists are holding out against the central government. Heavy mortar fire erupted in the breakaway province of South Ossetia on Wednesday, but the Georgians and separatists disagreed over whose troops were responsible. Mamuka Kurashvili, the commander of the Georgian peacekeeping battalion in Ossetia told Reuters by telephone that separatists had opened fire from the regional capital, Tskhinvali, and hit government-controlled villages nearby. The separatists said Georgian forces opened fire on Tskhinvali and they had to respond. A separatist Web site,, said one woman was wounded, but Russian media quoted Ossetian officials as saying that between two and four people were wounded. The Web site said Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity had sent heavy amour to the area. Ossetia broke away from Georgia soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A joint Georgian-Russian peacekeeping force polices the shaky truce in the region, where bouts of violence are not unusual. In a sign of how sensitive any violent flare-up is in the region, Abkhazia's leader Sergei Bagapsh held an urgent telephone conversation with Kokoity and told his troops to move closer to the border with Georgia proper.


Georgian Leader Accuses Russian Military of 'Subversion'

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that Russia's military was spearheading subversive activity in the Georgian separatist region of Abkhazia. In a speech at the UN's New York headquarters, Saakashvili referred to an incident in Abkhazia last week in which Georgian security forces killed what he said was a Russian army officer leading a group of rebels. "One has to wonder. What was a lieutenant colonel of the Russian military doing in the Georgian forests, organising and leading a group of armed insurgents on a mission of subversion and violence?" Saakashvili demanded. Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied that the man Saakashvili referred to was a Russian soldier, insisting he was a Russian instructor "with a military past" and that he was one of two such instructors killed at an Abkhaz anti-terrorism camp. The incident was the latest in a series of disputes between Tbilisi and Moscow. The problem of Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia, has long been a bone of contention between ex-Soviet Georgia and its vast northern neighbour.

Abkhazia, a sliver of land between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains, broke away from Georgia after fierce fighting in 1992-93. As in South Ossetia, the separatist administration is backed by Russia. In his speech, Saakashvili made a series of other accusations against Russian authorities, including "actively -- and illegally -- building a new military base" in South Ossetia. Earlier Georgian officials said the two men killed on September 20 were Abkhaz fighters. They said Georgian forces had opened fired on a group of special forces who had crossed into a Georgian-controlled area of Abkhazia. Saakashvili has vowed to bring Abkhazia and South Ossetia back under Georgian control through diplomatic means and he said on Wednesday that this would happen "sooner rather than later."

Last month, Georgian authorities accused Russia of dropping a missile, which did not explode, near the capital Tbilisi. Russia's air force denied any involvement and accused Georgia of deliberate provocation. In a separate incident last month, Georgian authorities also said they had opened fire and probably downed a military plane coming from Abkhazia that had violated its airspace. Georgia has meanwhile been redoubling efforts to join the NATO military alliance, boosting defence spending to around a quarter of the total government budget and preparing its radar systems for alignment with NATO. Moscow has been infuriated by Georgia's preparations to join the Western-led alliance, seeing the ex-Soviet republic's bid as part of US encroachment into Russia's backyard.


In related news:


Excerpt from report by Russian Channel One Europe TV on 30 September

[Presenter Petr Tolstoy] The most shocking news of the week came from Georgia. It provided further proof that even the Rose Revolution will only be worth something, if it is able to defend itself. The Georgian authorities have gone rather far in putting up this defence, much further than declarations about democracy and independence. First, there was the carbon monoxide poisoning of [late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab] Zhvania, and now another comrade, former Defence Minister [Irakli] Okruashvili has been put in the cells. This was after he promised to tell the truth about murders and corruption scandals in the government. But this is not the main thing. In the final analysis, all these murders and arrests of the opposition are the internal affair of Georgia. Another thing was striking: the cruelty with which two Russian citizens, former soldiers, were killed having been taken prisoner. The two men were conducting training with new recruits near the Abkhaz-Georgian border. Murders of Russian officers of this kind last took place at the beginning of the 1990s in Chechnya. Here with the details is Yevgeniy Baranov.

[Correspondent] The Georgian president's speech to the UN has been long expected. It was expected and feared. Not the speech itself, but what would be chosen as its reference point. It was thought that some sort of controversy would be provoked for yet another attack on Russia. But no-one thought that bloodshed would be used as a pretext for posturing on a platform. [Passage omitted: excerpt of Saakashvili's speech at UN asking why Russian officers were on Georgian territory]

[Correspondent over shots of grave] The mother and widow of retired lieutenant-colonel, Igor Muzovatkin, stand by his grave. It was of him that the Georgian president was speaking at the UN. The horrible death of the retired officer, who once served as a peacekeeper in Abkhazia, gave Saakashvili his longed-for pretext to raise the question of the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Abkhazia. [Passage omitted: grieving mother speaks of her last memory of her son]

[Correspondent] Lieutenant-Colonel Muzovatkin had his throat cut on 20 September. It happened here at this training camp for Abkhaz border guards high in the mountains of the republic's Tqvarcheli District. New recruits have been coming here to train for three years now. This time the group of 20 young men had two instructors: two former Russian officers, who had signed a contract with the Abkhaz Defence Ministry. The second was Artur Dvorkin. He was shot at point-blank range when already wounded. [Passage omitted: Abkhaz forensic expert says it was a brutal killing]

[Correspondent] It is now known that around 30 Georgians took part in the attack, and that it was carefully planned. [Passage omitted: details of the attack, including Abkhaz soldier saying it was an unprovoked attack, and that it was a long way from Georgian territory]

[Correspondent] Seven men were captured and taken away to Georgia. Those who decided to put up a fight were dealt with without ceremony.

[Sergey Bagapsh, president of the Republic of Abkhazia] As a man and as their friend, I had a desire to take some serious hardware up there and avenge them like a man. I had this feeling as a person and a man. But as a politician, I understand what could follow from this. There are things that are done right away, and others that we will do in any case. We will conduct negotiations and talk for as long as this is possible. Seven of our men are imprisoned there, and our number-one priority is to secure their release.

[Correspondent] If it had not been for the speech of Russia's UN envoy, Vitaliy Churkin, at the Security Council, the UN would not have known about these details. [Passage omitted: details of UN proceedings, including criticism of Georgia by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov]

[Correspondent] The main impression from Saakashvili's speech [at the UN] was meant to be that Russian peacekeepers are not just training guerrillas, but are leading sabotage raids against Georgia. What is more, this main motive concealed another one, which might be even more important. Expressing his indignation in New York, Saakashvili succeeded in gradually legitimizing the activity of his security forces on Abkhaz territory. From now on, any similar action will be portrayed as a logical continuation of what they have already got away with once, even if it happens on the edge of Sukhumi. [Passage omitted: Saakashvili saying that he will unify Georgia during his presidency. The correspondent adds that this is to be understood as up until 2008. The report goes on to cover the allegations made against Saakashvili by his former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili]

[Correspondent] On Tuesday evening [25 September], when Saakashvili was savouring his imminent triumph in New York, a crushing blow was dealt to his government. On the only TV channel not under the control of the authorities, Imedi, his former closest comrade Irakli Okruashvili accused the president of corruption, conspiracy to organize murder and anti-state activities. [Passage omitted: more details of the accusations, including excerpts of Okruashvili on Georgian TV]

[Correspondent] Sitting in the studio, the former minister recounted in detail how, for example, Saakashvili ordered him to liquidate the owner of the [Imedi] TV channel, the influential businessman, Badri Patarkatsishvili, by blowing up his car. [Passage omitted: more on the political controversy in Georgia, suggesting that Saakashvili has dodged answering the charges directly, and containing the suggestion that the controversy has boosted the opposition, and that opposition leaders may now be fearing for their own lives]

[Correspondent] In the absence of Okruashvili [who has been arrested], we managed to get oblique confirmation of his accusations from an unexpected source. It turns out that the now world-famous businessman, Andrey Lugovoy, has spent the last few years helping Badri Patarkatsishvili with his personal security in Georgia.

[Lugovoy, interviewed in a park] I would just like to say, first, that it is more than likely that what Okruashvili says is true. This is because, second, the motives would be his [Patarkatsishvili's] political rivalry and independent position, which found an outlet, among others, through the media. The third thing is that we observed this. We observed that there was a more serious attitude to security, with different people saying different things. There were requests to step up security, to lay on an extra car, a lead group. In the car carrying the security guards there was a dog capable of detecting explosives. All this took place.

[Correspondent] According to Lugovoy, it is not just him who does not doubt that Okruashvili is telling the truth, but all those he worked with in Tbilisi. What is more, he knows himself how the murder would have been portrayed had it taken place.

[Lugovoy] The hand of Moscow. The hand of Moscow. That is the only way. This is Saakashvili's style. They would have thought up anything, taking into account the fact that Patarkatsishvili has not been in Russia for some time for various reasons. The hand of Moscow, what else could these young hot-blooded types like Saakashvili do?

[Correspondent] The reaction of the West to the arrest of Okruashvili was predictable, but disappointed many in Georgia. [Passage omitted: quotation from statement by State Department official Matthew Bryza saying it was probably linked to crime, not politics, and that the courts must decide the matter]

[Correspondent] The statements from Washington made it clear to everyone that the only thing that concerns the Americans now is the security of Saakashvili's position. The problems with Georgian democracy, which were recently of such concern to them, were declared to be an internal matter for Georgia.

[Andrey Kokoshin, chairman of the State Duma committee for CIS affairs] The reaction of the State Department is pure political hypocrisy. There are enough politicians there who know who they are dealing with. I mean the current leadership in Georgia. But they have invested in it and backed it. People like this are not abandoned straight away in a situation like this. Maybe they have not found a replacement yet. [Passage omitted: Putin says what is going on in Georgia is an internal matter, but that it is hardly a good example for other states to follow]

[Correspondent] The authorities in the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are preparing for the worst. Saakashvili's tone leaves no doubt that having put his hawk [Okruashvili] behind bars, he will soon have to show his claws himself.


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Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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