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MP reports provocations on Russian-Georgian border

By Temuri Kiguradze
Thursday, June 18
Georgian border guards are facing constant provocations from the other side of Georgian-Russian border in the Racha region, stated Georgian MP Paata Davitaia on June 17.

Davitaia had visited locations near the Mamisoni Pass in the Racha Mountains of Western Georgia, and on his way back witnessed a big explosion close to the border. The MP assumed that the blast was connected with the Kavkaz-2009 Russian military exercises.

“I was moving with our border guards on the perimeter of the border. The border police are under constant provocation from the Russian side of the border. They say Russian troops and Ossetian separatists who are also located nearby often open fire on the Georgian border police positions. The summer camp for border police has already been destroyed by fire,” Davitaia told The Messenger on June 17.

Earlier the Georgian opposition and media had reported that Georgian border police had left the Russian-Georgian border near the Mamisoni Ridge. It had also been stated that Russian troops had taken up positions 20 km deep into Georgian territory. The Georgian Interior and Foreign Ministries had categorically denied this information, stating that the border police “conduct their usual patrols on this territory.” The part of the border concerned is located in the Racha region and is also close to the administrative border with breakaway South Ossetia.

Commenting on the situation at the Mamisoni Pass, spokesperson for the Georgian Interior Ministry Shota Utiashvili told The Messenger that the reason for the explosion mentioned by Davitaia is “unclear yet”, adding that the Ministry is trying to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile in Tbilisi, Georgian political experts are warning of a possible new Russian aggression against the country. According to political analyst Mamuka Areshidze all the strategic locations in the Caucasus Mountains, on the whole perimeter of the Georgian-Russian border, are already occupied by Russian troops. Speaking at a briefing in Tbilisi, Areshidze and another expert, the head of the Caucasus People’s Confederation NGO Zaal Kasrelishvili, stated that in the event of an attack the Russian Army would have all the key advantages and would be able to conduct military operations deep in Georgian territory.

Both experts are demanding that the Government and opposition pay attention to what is happening on the border. Areshidze also underlined that Russia, just as in summer 2008, is now conducting large scale military exercises, the ‘Kavkaz-2009’. “Compared to last August Russia is involving much stronger forces in these trainings, including military helicopters. Everything now depends on whether this is just a demonstration of force or preparation for a new military aggression,” stated Areshidze. Concerning the situation at the Mamisoni Pass, he said: “If there is a real threat here, society must know about it.”Areshidze stated that he personally plans to visit this region and monitor what is going on there. “It’s necessary to determine the situation there. If the mountains of Racha are empty and the local residents have left, their houses and lands may be taken by Ossetians from the nearby Java region [of South Ossetia], as has happened several times in the past,” concluded the expert.