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Still under threat

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 6
After the terrorist attacks in Moscow on March 29 certain Russian officials again began speculating about a Georgian connection with terrorism and the need to investigate this. Though there is no evidence of this 'Georgian connection', and Tbilisi categorically denies there is one, the threat of possible Russian moves against Georgia is very real to the Georgian population which is still pretty scared after the Russian aggression of 08/08/08, as was proven by the reaction to the Imedi TV hoax invasion report of March 13.

There are different opinions in Georgia about the bombings. Some analysts suggest that The Kremlin itself was behind them as it is trying to create grounds for a new aggression. Others think that direct aggression is unlikely but Moscow is still seeking to discredit Georgia worldwide. Some suggest that both possibilities are quite realistic.

As soon as the Moscow attacks occurred different journalists predicted that the Russian authorities would try to put the blame on Georgia. This came true on March 31 when head of the Russian Federation's Security Council Nikolay Patrushev, a former FSB boss, said in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant that he suspected there was a Georgian links with the terrorist attacks. He did not directly point the finger at Georgia but said it was necessary to check this. Russian commentator from Novaya Gazeta Olga Gobrova suggests that Patrushev had in mind the famous Chechen combatant nationalist Doku Umarov, who on March 31 claimed responsibility for the explosion and may be hiding in Georgia. Chairman of the Association of Georgian People Gocha Zasokhov has also suggested that maybe somebody from the Georgian political elite has had contact with the terrorist attack organisers.

Russian analyst Pavel Felgengauer, who became famous after he predicted the 08/08/08 Russian attack on Georgia, has stated in an interview with Georgian agency Pirveli that the negative energy accumulated in Russian society will definitely be used against somebody. He drew a parallel between these terrorist attacks on March 29 with the explosions in Moscow in 1999 which triggered Vladimir Putin’s full scale military attack on Chechnya known as the Second Chechen War, which eventually paved the way for Putin's Presidency. Therefore if Russia is looking for a reason to start another war the March 29 terrorist attacks were necessary and timely for Moscow, thinks Felgengauer.

From the Georgian political elite Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria commented that Moscow could use the suicide bombings as a reason for launching aggression against Georgia. Sven Cornell, Director of John Hopkins University's Central Asia and Caucasus Research Institute, also thinks that the Russian accusations create a dangerous background. However Georgian analysts give different comments. Zurab Abashidze does not see any real threat from Russia today. Irakli Menagharishvili regards Patrushev’s statement as ideological aggression, a means of political pressure, made to discredit Georgia worldwide. Expert in Caucasus issues Mamuka Areshidze thinks that Russia will attempt to create a hostile international opinion concerning Georgia and maybe start military operations in Pankisi Gorge. Vice Premier in Exile of the Chechen Republic Akhmed Zakaev suggests that no direct threat of Russian attack on Georgia is visible but the Russians want to keep Georgian society in a state of continual tension, so that the Georgian population would be frightened by the possibility of a new aggression and therefore less concerned about the deoccupation of Georgia.

The West's position on these bombings is very important. Will it accept Russia's allegations or treat them as groundless and thus protect Georgia’s image? Georgia’s condition is very much an indicator of whether a pro-Western or pro-Russian orientation will prevail in the region, and therefore the West has a vested interest in protecting Georgia if it cares about any part of this region for any purpose.