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Separatists accuse Georgia of plotting invasion

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, July 7
Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia claimed this weekend that Georgia is plotting military invasions to retake the two separatist regions. Georgian officials say they are committed to peaceful resolution of the country’s separatist conflicts.

On July 5 the separatist press service for South Ossetia released a statement saying that recent shootings and shelling in the region, an alleged buildup of Georgian troops in South Ossetia and the attack on a Tbilisi-loyal South Ossetia official are part of a planned invasion.

“Firstly Georgia will increase the number of the troops in the region under different excuses, the next step will include the gradual taking of strategic roads, passes, heights and settlements. After that Georgia is going to liquidate the head of pro-Georgian administration [Dmitry] Sanakoev in the way to blame South Ossetian government in that,” the statement says.

The head of Georgian peacekeeping forces, Mamuka Kurashvili, said there is no buildup of Georgian forces. “We’re not mobilizing our forces in the conflict zone, nor around it,” Kurashvili told reporters.

The separatist South Ossetian administration also claimed Tbilisi is plotting to assassinate separatist leaders and then send troops to the region on the pretext of suppressing a civil war, according to the press committee’s website.

That same day, the separatist leader of Abkhazia, Georgia’s other breakaway territory, announced that his administration got its hands on a Georgian Defense Ministry plan for a military invasion. Speaking to reporters in Abkhazia, de facto president Sergey Bagapsh said the plan was supposed to be carried out in April.

He claimed it was thwarted by Abkhaz “defensive measures” and the deployment of additional Russian peacekeepers in April.

Those statements, and reports of violence in the breakaway regions, received heavy coverage in Russian news media over the weekend.

Georgian military analyst Koba Liklikadze called the separatists’ statements “a lie.”

“There is nothing new in this kind of statement, if you look through [news reports] for last several years, you will find a lot of similar announcements,” he said.

“In reality it’s all the same, and all these plans are made up by Russian special services on Lubyanka Street [location of the FSB] and serve only one goal—to damage the image of Georgia and spoil Georgia’s plans for peacefully solving the conflict,” Liklikadze said.

Georgian officials say they remain committed to peaceful resolution of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts, where violence has flared off and on since the two regions broke away in the early 1990s.

“We do everything not to be drawn into a military provocation,” Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze told reporters on July 5. He said Tbilisi will pursue its proposed peace plans for conflict resolution “with the support of the international community and despite all the obstacles.”