The messenger logo

New deteriorations in Moscow-Tbilisi relations

By Messenger Staff
Monday, May 16
Currently the Russian media is disseminating information according to which one of the prominent leaders of Chechen rebels Doku Umarov is allegedly hiding in Georgia. Pankisi Gorge is being named as his location. Georgian analysts, journalists and ruling authorities unanimously deny the speculation. They are calling the Russian claims provocative which have two targets: one to discredit Georgia in the eyes of west and on the other hand the Kremlin is fabricating a background from which they can launch repeated military aggression against Georgia.

Russian media report that during the March 2011 anti terrorist operations launched by Russian Special Forces Doku Umarov did not die and this is probably true because his body was not found among the dead. Initially it was presumed that he was allegedly still at large in Turkey however now Russians are considering another possibility which is Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. According to this version Umarov is being treated here for wounds he has suffered. On May 13 Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze refused to even comment about this allegation saying only that those spreading such rumours should receive consultations from psychiatrists, “the authors of this information require medical diagnosis.”

Analyst Irakli Sesiashvili thinks that this version is part of a very serious scenario masterminded in Moscow. As it is known some months ago the Russian President Medvedev during his appearance in front of the Russian Security Council accused Georgia of supporting terrorist groupings in the north Caucasus. Different representatives of the Russian official hierarchy keep repeating this formula in different ways. The analysts think that in the event of further deterioration of the situation between two countries, Moscow can use this motive not only to launch an information war in Georgia but to take military action as well.

Russia is trying to reap the dividends from such a situation in both its domestic and foreign politics. For domestic consumption the Russian population is fed with the arguments of Georgian support for terrorism inside Russia whereas internationally Moscow tries to discredit Georgia worldwide. If Russia manages to prove Georgia's involvement in Russian internal affairs then there will be less international pressure on Russia concerning its occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.

Meanwhile Russian political analyst Pavel Felgengauer who predicted Russia imposing war on Georgia in 2008 has written of the inevitability of repeated Russian aggression against Georgia before 2014. Felgengauger thinks that before 2014 NATO forces will leave Afghanistan therefore Central Asian countries will be openly exposed to the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism and Moscow would not have enough military capacity in these very vulnerable places to confront Islamists' proliferation further in the north-west direction from Afghanistan. As it is known most of the Russian combat potential now is concentrated in the Caucasus region therefore Felgengauger suggests that the Kremlin would of course prefer to finish once and for all the so called Georgian problem. Obviously to concentrate its major attention in the Central Asian direction Moscow will need a friendly regime in Tbilisi and comparative stability there. He expresses his supposition that there are many problems currently in the Caucasus region which will be difficult to resolve peacefully. Moscow refuses to negotiate with Tbilisi on these issues and these problems should be addressed properly. They cannot be postponed forever.

This scenario is also giving ground to those who believe that the revolutionary oriented opposition might be receiving support from Russia.