Tbilisi, Moscow, Sukhumi exchange accusations over Chuburkhinji shootout
By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, April 13Georgia, Russia and de facto Abkhazian authorities have exchanged accusations over the April 8 shootout in Abkhazia, which left one Russian border guard and two other people dead. Following the incident, the de facto Abkhazian Foreign Ministry issued a special statement, accusing the Georgian side of “launching a new stage of terrorist activities” on the territory of the breakaway region.
According to the information disseminated by the de facto authorities, on April 8 on the territory of the village of Chuburkhinji, Gali region, Russian border officer Vasiliy Kvitko was killed and one officer was wounded during a shootout. Russian Security Services said immediately after the incident that two persons, who attacked the Russian border guards and were killed during the shootout, were Georgian citizens, Georgian Interior Ministry Officers.
“This provocation proves the launching of a new stage of terrorist activity by the Georgian special services, which are trying to destabilize the situation and intimidate the peaceful population in Gali region of Abkhazia,” the de facto Ministry’s statement reads “The Abkhazian Foreign Ministry is concerned with the fact that the activities of the Georgian gangs on Abkhazian territory are being carried out with the support of the Georgian government, by the Interior Ministry in particular,” it continues. The de facto authorities have claimed they will seek a “strict reaction and condemnation” of the international mediators over the incident.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also backed the statements of the de facto Abkhazian officials. Commenting on the April 8 shootout in Abkhazia, official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich said that two people, killed in the shootout, Kharchilava and Sichinava, residents of Gali region were “wanted for terrorist activities.” The Russian Ministry suggested that Kharchilava and Sichinava had “close cooperation” with Georgia’s special services. “The criminals were used for keeping tension in Gali region, and for discrediting activities of the Russian border guards and the Abkhazian law enforcers,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. He added that the killed persons belonged to an “infamous Georgian armed gang Forest Brothers.” Lukashevich claimed that Tbilisi is “intentionally striving to destabilize the situation at the borders of the sovereign republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
Officially, Tbilisi has denied the allegations of the Russian and the de facto Abkhazian authorities. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a special statement posted on the official website of the ministry that one of the killed persons - Lasha Sichinava, had been wanted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia since 2002 and was accused of theft, robbery and hostage-taking, and sentenced in absentia to 19 years in prison.
“This criminal incident indicates once again that Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, inalienable parts of Georgia presently occupied by Russia, have become black holes of criminality, where with the backing of the Russian occupying forces and the occupation regimes created by the Russian Federation an increasing number of cases of illicit trafficking in arms, drugs, nuclear materials and people as well as the planning of terrorist acts in other parts of Georgian territory have been carried out,” the statement reads “So-called thieves in law and other kinds of criminals are offered shelter in the Russian Federation and the Russian-occupied Georgian territories. Shoot-outs between representatives of the Russian occupying forces, occupation regimes and criminals over the division of spheres of influence and money have become a fact of life in the occupied regions,” it continued.