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Discharged Russian peacekeepers detained near Poti

By Messenger Staff
Monday, December 24

Georgian military police detained three Russian peacekeepers, apparently just after they were discharged from service, near the western port town of Poti on December 22.

Rustavi 2 reported that the three men were drunk, in civilian dress and without ID cards when they were detained for straying out of the security zone along the administrative border with secessionist Abkhazia.

“An investigation is now underway to find out how and why the three Russian peacekeepers left the [mandated security zone] and made it to Poti,” a military police representative told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

Commander of the CIS peacekeepers in the Abkhazian conflict zone Sergey Chaban told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the three men had been discharged the day before for violating their contracts, and were meant to be in Russia when they were detained.

An investigation is being carried out from the Russian side, Chaban said, “to find out why they stayed in Georgia and how they ended up in Poti.”

Meanwhile, a Georgian representative told the Kavkas-Press news agency that authorities here are ready to hand the three men over to Russian forces.

Tbilisi has repeatedly criticized the behavior of Russian peacekeepers serving in the secessionist conflict zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, claiming that the forces buttress the separatist regimes there and lack discipline. Government officials have said they want to see the nominally CIS peacekeeping force internationalized.

On October 30, Russian peacekeepers and Georgian policemen were involved in a bloody altercation near the village of Ganmukhuri, just hundreds of meters from the administrative border with secessionist Abkhazia.

Then-president Mikheil Saakashvili accused the Russian peacekeepers of assaulting and kidnapping the Georgian policemen, and demanded that Chaban, the Russian commander, be expelled from all de jure Georgian territory, including Abkhazia.