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Russia's creeping annexation

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 30
The Russian Federation congratulated Georgia on Independence Day on May 26 in a very unusual way. It increased the size of the occupied territories in the Tskhinvali region and moved the so-called “state border” between Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia a further 300 meters. The barbed wire has been installed at new places.

This fact once again signifies the arrogant position of the Russian Federation, which indeed frustrates the Georgian government’s recently established policy aimed at "re-setting" relations with Russia.

Snatching additional meters of Georgian territory is a bitter pill to swallow for the local Georgian population. Some have even lost cultivated plots of land; an irrigation water canal is also beyond this new demarcation line and the road to the village cemetery and the cemetery itself appears on the other side of the border now. Residents of the villages of Dvini and Ditsi are in a dire situation. They very well realize that in the foreseeable future, the government will not be able to return their lands to them.

Of course it is understandable that problems for the residents of those two small villages are only a small background for the bigger political picture. This represents a hard and unpleasant blow to Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government. Ivanishvili's policy aimed at thawing relations with the Russian Federation is acknowledged by all. However, instead of a positive or even neutral reaction from the Kremlin on behalf of his pragmatic efforts, Moscow's response is akin to a slap to the face.

This is not the way Ivanishvili expected Russia would behave. The current Georgian opposition, United National Movement (UNM) members are stating triumphantly that this is the failure of Ivanishvili’s foreign policy.

According to UNM members, Russia ignores Georgia’s goodwill to establish warmer relations between the two countries, and even if Russia wanted to improve the relations, it would be at the expense of abusing and insulting Georgia’s sovereignty and other international rights.

Georgian government has already sent a protest note to the Russia Federation through the Swiss Embassy reminding its northern neighbor that this is provocative conduct and that it is in stark contradiction with the August 12, 2008 Russian-signed international cease-fire agreement.

Georgian Foreign Affairs Ministry demands the return of the Russian occupational forces to their initial position. Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, promised to discuss this issue seriously in front of the world community. Although this issue is not part of the major discussions between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin and Georgia’s special envoy in relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, it should by all means be touched upon. This meeting will be held at the beginning of June whereas on June 26-27, another round of Geneva Talks will also be conduced where this issue will be naturally raised by the Georgian delegation.

It is interesting that these latest events were not known by the foreign diplomats until the media informed them. However, State Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareishvili, said he personally informed PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon about the situation across the Georgian “border.”

In the end, Russia continues its creeping annexation of Georgian territories, and this action poses a great threat to Georgia’s statehood, as well as to the current administration. Georgia is in really awkward situation and it is not quite clear how it will come out of the situation.