Relations between Russia and Georgia have strained further recently with Moscow accusing Tbilisi of allowing rebels to invade Chechnya from Georgia. The terrorism charges at such a delicate time, could hurt Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze’s attempts to increase ties with the US.
All responsibility for the recent invasion of Russia by rebels rests with the Georgian authorities, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin said in Moscow.
“In the past few days, groups of armed rebels made up not only terrorists, but also of foreign mercenaries, have entered Russia from Georgia,” the diplomat said.
Russia has repeatedly warned Georgia about the need to take effective measures against the rebels. “Unfortunately, this was not done. Either the Georgian authorities are unable to do so, or they don’t want to,” Loshchinin said adding that Moscow is determined to take its case
to the UN.
“Tbilisi is avoiding practical cooperation with Russia in the anti-terrorist operation, and the Georgian Foreign Ministry is trying to make the situation on the border look unclear, accusing Russia of aggressive actions against Georgia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Konstantin Totsky, director of the Federal Border Guard Service, told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Georgia knew rebels were going to Russia. Totsky cited information he had, as well as information provided by a Georgian shepherd, who risked his life by doing so. Putin said this shows once again that ordinary Georgians feel better about Russia than the authorities do. “The people of Georgia are generally very positive about Russia, and I am sure that the people of Russia feel they same way about the people of Georgia,” Putin said, referring to the shepherd’s action. “This is a good potential for restoration of full-scale relations between Russia and Georgia in the future,” Putin said. An unlikely proposition since the Georgian government is eager to lessen its dependence on its former master.
Meanwhile, Georgian ambassador to Moscow Zurab Abashidze has categorically denied all accusations of connivance with terrorism brought against his country. Ekho Moskvy quoted him as saying, “We are doing what we can to resist terrorism. But sometimes absolutely unrealistic demands and claims that are beyond our powers are made.” (643)