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Russia rejects claims of covert terrorism

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, December 9
Russia has denied any connection of the Russian Colonel Evgeni Borisov with the terrorist acts carried out on Georgian territory. According to the information released by the Russian daily Kommersant on December 8, the Ministry of Defense of Russia called the Georgian allegations “another poorly planned and poorly staged provocation.” Stressing that the rumours about Russia’s engagement in the series of explosions in Georgia have been total provocation, the Russian Ministry said the Government of Georgia had been acting quite clumsily. “More creativity is needed, than just these fairy tales about mobile phone numbers registered with the Russian Ministry of Defense,” Kommersant quoted.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia claimed that Georgia’s recent allegation was aimed to coincide with the EU-Russia high-level summit in Brussels on December 7 but Russia had the same position in early November when Georgia uncovered the Russian military intelligence’s spy network in Georgia. Moscow then said it was a provocation aimed at attracting international attention in the lead up to NATO Lisbon and OSCE Astana summits. Tbilisi, however, stopped directly accusing the Russian leadership of being behind the blasts and invited Moscow to cooperate in the investigation.

Georgia’s evidence, through which Tbilisi claims that an Abkhazia-based Russian army officer was behind a series of explosions and one failed blast attempt in recent months include an inquiry made by Russian forces in Abkhazia via a hotline asking the EU Monitoring Mission about the explosion, which never happened. The Ministry of Interior Affairs of Georgia (MIA) released an e-mail received from EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) informing the ministry that on October 3 Aleksander Berchenko from the Russian forces stationed in breakaway Abkhazia was asking about an alleged train accident, which occurred on the Senaki-Poti section of the railway causing human casualties. A Russian contact on the hotline cited information received from persons who were commuting across the administrative border requesting to pass on the Georgia side, that the Russian side was ready to offer assistance.

According to Shota Utiashvili, head of the MIA Information and Analytical Department, the only way for the Russian army officer to obtain credible information about whether the explosion occurred or not was via hotline with EUMM. Utiashvili claimed that since the explosion had in fact never occurred, it seemed that those making an inquiry to EUMM apparently knew in advance that the blast had been planned. The letter received from the European Union from the EUMM hotline log confirmed that Russia stood behind the series of explosions investigated by MIA. The members of the criminal group did not explode the railway but lied to an officer that they did. The local TV stations also kept the incident in secret due to the visit of NATO authorities to the country which became the reason for the Russians to start checking up on the information with the EUMM.

The Labour Party expressed their mistrust towards the investigation and places the responsibility on the terrorist acts specifically on the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. The party’s HQ where the explosion took a women’s life, according to the main perpetrator Gogita Arkhania, had been targeted for creating misunderstanding in the whole story. At the press conference held on December 8, the leader of the party Shalva Natelashvili told the media that the series of explosions from September-November had a political basis. Saakashvili, according to Natelashvili, aimed at frightening the citizens, caused confrontation between US-Russia and created an alibi for upcoming terrorist acts. He asked the special representatives of the US Congress and European Parliament to arrive in Georgia and investigate Saakashvili’s activities. Moreover, encouraging the world leaders to stop lobbying Saakashvili, he asked the International Court of Justice in the Hague to hasten discussing his suit against Saakashvili aimed at detaining the President.

The US Embassy in Georgia had been among the targets for the terrorists. President Barack Obama’s senior adviser on Russia Michael McFaul told the media that the US had started acquiring additional information around the issue.

An analyst in Caucasus issues Giorgi Mamulia spoke of how Georgia has succeeded in changing Moscow’s Caucasian course by uncovering the criminal group. “I’m sure that the explosion near the US Embassy was aimed at “proving” the existence of Islamic groups on Georgian territory which would imply an uncontrolled situation in the country. Moreover such claims would make Georgian people feel miserable and would hamper relations with the North Caucasians,” the analyst said. According to analyst Mamuka Areshidze, it has been suggested that the explosion near the Embassy might have been the warning sign for the US demonstrating how the Kremlin has been controlling the situation within the region.