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Russia blames Georgia for South Ossetia explosions

By Christina Tashkevich
Thursday, March 27
The Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Georgia is behind recent deadly explosions in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgian officials deny any involvement in the two blasts.

“Tracks from [the] two terrorist acts lead to Georgia,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikheil Kamynin said.

On February 28, an explosive device hidden in a television set detonated at a police checkpoint and polling booth in a separatist-controlled South Ossetian village, killing two Ossetian policemen and injuring others.

“It’s an unlikely coincidence that voting for the Russian presidential election was underway in the building at the time of the incident. The person who planted the television escaped into Georgian [controlled] territory,” Kamynin said yesterday.

On March 23 another bomb blew up a car near the village of Okona, severely injuring two men, including a peacekeeper.

Irina Gagloyeva, head of the de facto South Ossetian press department, said the incident is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili denied Georgian involvement.

“De facto Tskhinvali authorities are using every method to provoke the Georgian government into making inappropriate moves. Georgia has never resorted to terrorism and it has no need to,” he told journalists.

Conflict analyst Paata Zakareishvili suggests the Russian Foreign Ministry’s accusations are an attempt to smear the Georgian government before the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest, at which Georgia is hoping to receive a Membership Action Plan, the next stage of integration into the Alliance.

“If they have any evidence of Georgia participating in this, let them present this evidence and let the OSCE investigate,” he told the paper.

Also yesterday, Kamynin, the Russian spokesman, called on all sides to show restraint, and urged a meeting between Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and de facto South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity.

The same day the Georgian Foreign Ministry criticized a Russian parliamentary resolution that advises Moscow to consider recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“This document, which views the sovereign right of a country to determine independently its own foreign policy priorities as a motive for justifying infringement of Georgia’s territorial integrity, represents yet another attempt to interfere openly in the internal affairs of a neighbouring sovereign state,” a statement from the Georgian Foreign Ministry reads.

It also said that Russia has lost any “political, legal or moral right” to claim to be a neutral mediator in conflict resolution in Georgia.

“The Georgian Foreign Ministry strongly urges the international community to duly assess the actions of the Russian authorities and react appropriately to prevent the possible escalation of the tension in the region,” the statement continues.