Abkhazia shuts border after 'Georgian terrorist attacks'
Abkhazia shuts border after 'Georgian terrorist attacks': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhqqMuA-U-E
Abkhazia has closed its border with Georgia pending a special order, the Abkhazian Security Council has announced. Several explosions have been reported in the past two days, injuring several people. Abkhazia blames Georgia for waging a ‘terrorist war’ against it. According to Abkhazian presidential spokesman Kristian Bzhania, all posts on the Georgia-Abkhazia border were closed on Tuesday at 8 am local time. The main bridge over the Inguri river, connecting Georgia and Abkhazia, is also closed. "The ban applies to civilians and vehicles. Only representatives of international missions accredited in Abkhazia will be cleared following consultations with the Foreign Ministry and State Security Council," said Bzhania. Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh is blaming the blasts on special forces taking orders from Tbilisi. Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili said they regret that Abkhazia “took this very irresponsible and inadequate measure which jeopardises the means of communication and movement of people who live in Abkhazia”. She said freedom of movement on the Inguri river benefits not only Georgians, but Abkhazians as well. According to Maksim Gvindzhia, Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, seven people were injured in the latest explosion in the capital Sukhumi.
They are being treated in hospital where some are believed to be critically injured. There are unconfirmed reports of fatalities, but, Gvindzhia stressed they are as yet unconfirmed. One Russian tourist is believed to be among the injured. The explosions, which went off in a crowded market on Monday are believed to have been caused by bombs hidden in bins. It's the second such incident in two days. Six women were injured on Sunday in a blast in the city of Gagra. Abkhazia is blaming Georgia for the explosions. “These blasts are the work of Georgian special services. I’ve been saying for several years that it’s a country of terrorism. Their whole policy is based on terror, but we are going to fight it, and the situation will be under control. I can’t promise you that the same thing won’t happen tomorrow because anything is possible, but we’re taking all measures to find the terrorists,” President Bagapsh said.
But Georgian officials deny any responsibility for such incidents, calling them provocation. “The accusations made by the authorities in Sukhumi against Georgia are not serious and are absolutely groundless. Tbilisi is constantly being blamed for all the negative events in the Abkhazia region, without waiting for any investigation of any of the evidence,” Georgia’s Defence Minister David Kezerashvili said. Tbilisi wants the border reopened and says that its closure violates previous agreements. Abkhazia says the blockade may be lifted very soon. But first, they have to make sure that everything has been done to stop further attacks on the republic's resorts.
Sea link resumes between Russia and Abkhazia
On July 1, the first passenger boat in 15 years went from the Russian sea resort of Sochi to the Abkhazian city of Gagry. The vessel Hermes can carry more than 200 people and will make four trips a day. Voyages to Gagry were halted in 1992 after the beginning of the armed conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia.
Blocking the border
Abkhazia is a self-proclaimed republic that was part of the Soviet republic of Georgia. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, Abkhazia's attempts to declare independence led to Georgia sending armed forces to Sukhumi and starting a full-blown war. Fighting ended one year later when CIS peacekeepers, most of them Russian, went in to Abkhazia to separate the conflicting sides. Together with UN forces, they remain stationed in the bordering Gali region. Georgia still considers Abkhazia part of its territory and wants to regain control over the region. Tbilisi also says that Russian peacekeepers should be withdrawn, which could raise tensions in the region. Peace talks between the two sides broke down two years ago. Recently, Georgia sent reinforcements to the region, sparking fears in Abkhazia that Tbilisi was planning a military campaign. Russia responded by increasing its peacekeeping force up to 2,500, which Georgia claims is a move by Moscow aimed at annexing the region.
South Ossetia Declares Nation-Wide Mobilization
Shelling reported in Georgia's breakaway region: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNuiaDA3KDg
Georgia’s breakaway province South Ossetia has declared the nation-wide mobilization following the attack on Tskhinvali at night from July 3 to 4. The death-toll is two persons, Interfax reported with reference to South Ossetia's officials. President of unrecognized South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity threatened to deploy major combat vehicles in the conflict area if the attack is launched again. South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, was under attack till 2:30 a.m., July 4, and the bombs hit nine houses. Georgia claims that the fire was opened after the previous night’s attack on Eredvi and Vanati villages. The peacekeepers’ contingent in the conflict area has been put into extreme combat alert and commanding officers urge opposing parties to immediately proceed to negotiations. In this respect, of interest is that Georgia unilaterally stepped up the strength of enforcement bodies in a few settlements of South Ossetia past afternoon.
Seven Unidentified Jets Spotted in South Ossetia
Seven unidentified jets were seen flying during the night attack on Tskhinvali, RIA Novosti reported with reference to Vladimir Ivanov, who is the aid to commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia’s conflict area. Past night, Georgia brought down fire on South Ossetia in three directions, attacking its capital Tskhinvali and Ubiat and Dmenis villages. One man was killed, three injured in time of shooting. “The peacekeepers’ outposts recorded seven flights of the aircraft from 1:10 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., Friday, – two Su-25 jets at 4:47 a.m. and the spying drones in the remaining cases. The contingent of peacekeepers was put into combat readiness,” Ivanov said. The breakaway republic of Georgia, South Ossetia is seeking the independence recognition, but Georgia is ready to grant only the wide autonomy to it. The joint contingent of peacekeepers that consists of three battalions (Russian, Georgian and North Ossetia’s, 500 servicemen each) secures peace in the conflict area.
Russia begins military exercises in volatile N. Caucasus region
Russia began Saturday large-scale military exercises in several regions of the Southern Federal District, which includes highly volatile North Caucasus republics, a senior military official said. The exercise, dubbed Caucasus Frontier 2008, will involve units of the North Caucasus Military District, mainly the 58th Army, the 4th Air Force Army, Interior Ministry troops, and border guards. "The active phase of the multi-stage exercise will be held through the second week of July," said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Maystrenko, deputy chief of staff of the North Caucasus Military District. He said the main goal of the exercise is to practice interoperability between federal troops, interior ministry's troops, border guards, and the Air Force in special operations against militants and the defense of Russia's state borders. The exercise will mostly take place on the territory of Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachayevo-Circassia. According to statistics, 80% of terrorism-related crimes in Russia occur in the Southern Federal District, which includes North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia. During the first five months of 2008, Ingushetia alone saw a sharp increase in assaults on law enforcement and military personnel. In 53 attacks a total of 12 police officers and four servicemen were killed and 46 law enforcement officers and 11 soldiers were injured. On Wednesday, two policemen were killed, and five others wounded in the town of Malgobek in Ingushetia after their vehicles came under fire by unidentified gunmen. The region has also been recently shaken by an intensified conflict between Georgia and its breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia warns of "new war" in Abkhazia conflict
A "new war" could break out in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia if Tbilisi uses military force to resolve the conflict, Russia's Defence Ministry said on Saturday. Separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh accused Georgia on Saturday of planning to take over the region by force earlier this year, though the operation did not come to fruition. "Such plans by Tbilisi can only be seen as yet another step towards further escalating the tensions in the region, which will bring the conflict into a new war," the Defence Ministry said in a statement on its Web site www.mil.ru. A popular Soviet-era resort, Abkhazia threw off Tbilisi's rule in a 1990s separatist war. It is not recognised by any state, but runs its own affairs. Earlier this week, Abkhazia said it was sealing itself off from Georgian-controlled territory after a series of explosions it blamed on Tbilisi.
Russia urges Georgia to sign ceasefire deal with its breakaway regions
The Russian foreign minister said Russia is concerned over the escalation of violence in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia and urged Georgia to sign a ceasefire deal with its breakaway regions, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Friday. "We ... want the international community to take urgent steps in both conflicts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia to persuade Tbilisi to sign a ceasefire agreement," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying. Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Georgia's actions to attack South Ossetia are an "open aggression." "Moscow believes it is unacceptable when Tbilisi tries to create an illusion of progress on the Abkhaz front and simultaneously commits undisguised acts of aggression against South Ossetia. Such tactics could reduce to zero the prospect of settling both conflicts," the ministry said. According to confirmed reports, an alleged Georgian attack on South Ossetia's capital of Tskhinvali left one dead and three injured late last night, Igor Alborov, a deputy defense and emergencies minister in the breakaway republic said. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A joint commission co-chaired by officials from Russia, Georgia, and North and South Ossetias has been involved in conflict resolution negotiations. However, Tbilisi has indicated that it doubts results can be achieved in the current format. Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have drastically deteriorated since Russia's former president Vladimir Putin called for closer ties between Moscow and the breakaway republics in mid-April.
Russia wants radar installed in breakaway Georgian region to prevent drone flights
A Russian diplomat says that Moscow wants to install a radar in Georgia's breakaway province to monitor flights of Georgian aircraft. Yuri Popov said Tuesday in a statement posted on the South Ossetian government Web site that the radar could help prevent incidents similar to those in Abkhazia, another breakaway province of Georgia. Popov represents Russia on a joint control commission for the region overseeing the truce that ended a war there in the early 1990s. Georgia accused Russia of shooting down an unmanned spy drone over Abkhazia last month, which Russia denied. U.N. observers studied video footage and concluded that a Russian fighter did shoot down the drone.