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Georgian official killed near the conflict zone

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, October 27
The head of the local government of the Tsalenjikha district and a local resident have been killed in an incident in Muzhava village near the administrative border with Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia.

Gia Mebonia died after an explosion occurred whilst he, local police officers and international observers were inspecting a house in the village of Muzhava, which according to the Georgian side was hit by grenades allegedly fired by Abkhaz militia on the night of October 25. The owner of the house also died in the explosion. The Georgian Interior Ministry states that the explosion was caused by either a mine or a remote-controlled bomb. The Ministry has also announced that a police officer was wounded in the same incident.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili held an urgent meeting of the National Security Council on October 26, mainly dedicated to the Muzhava explosion, part of which was broadcast on Georgian TV. Saakashvili said the death of Mebonia was “a provocation” and “a terrorist act.” He also pointed out that Georgia is under permanent threat of renewed conflict. “We should understand that we are facing a very evil, furious force,” Saakashvili said. “This force is very much disappointed that it failed to achieve its main goal in August, which was the occupation of Georgia, the invasion of Tbilisi, the overthrow of the Government and the taking control of the entire region,” he added.

“Organized and coordinated actions are needed as never before, and it is necessary to show calmness, firmness and unity,” Saakashvili continued. “We should understand that every agency should work in an organized manner and maximum coordination is needed with the European monitors in order to prevent such crimes in both the conflict zones. We should understand that these people are ready to repeat incidents like this and we should be ready to prevent this.”

Representatives of the Abkhazian separatists, speaking to the Russian media, have strongly denied any kind of connection with the Muzhava incident, and have moreover accused Georgia of terrorist attacks in Abkhazia.

“Tbilisi has started a large-scale terrorist campaign on the territory of Abkhazia, as is proven by the events of the last few days,” stated de facto Abkhazian President Sergey Baghapsh. He accused the Georgian side of murdering four people during the last three days in Gali district, an Abkhazian region mostly populated by ethnic Georgians. Tbilisi has denied this accusation, and stated that these murders resulted from incidents between Abkhaz militia and Russian troops stationed in Abkhazia.

Sergey Baghapsh has also stated that he objects to the activity undertaken by the European Military Monitors who had replaced the Russian occupation troops under the terms of the agreement between Georgia, Russia and the EU. “They [EU monitors] don’t make a fair evaluation of the actions of the Georgian Government, which uses terrorism as a state policy,” said Baghapsh, as quoted by Apsnypress. The other Georgian breakaway territory, South Ossetia, is also displeased with the EU observers. On October 26 the official press committee of the separatist region made a statement about the capture of military monitors in the Artsev village in Tskhinvali district. “EU monitors are responsible for the security of the zone bordering South Ossetia that was vacated by Russian peacekeepers on October 8. They don’t have the right to cross the border into South Ossetia without the permission of the Government of the Republic,” said Murat Jioev, de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs in the separatist regime.

Jioev also stated that the captured monitors would be handed over to representatives of international organisations. The capture of the monitors has not been confirmed so far either by the EU monitoring Mission or Georgian official sources.