Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Georgia/Russia: Updates

From RFE/RL:

Russia Puts Pressure On Georgia In UN

October 4, 2006 — Russia’s UN ambassador has submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council linking the future of a UN observer mission in Georgia with demands that Tbilisi stop “provocative actions” over the breakaway Abkhazia region.

The UN has had observers in Georgia since 1993 monitoring a cease-fire between Georgia and Abkhazia.

The mission’s mandate expires on October 15.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi, triggered when Georgia arrested four Russian officers last week and accused them of spying.

Georgia released the four on October 3, but Russia has severed all travel links with Georgia in retaliation.

(AFP, AP)

Russia Carrying Out Sweeping Checks On Georgians

October 4, 2006 — Russian authorities are carrying out sweeping checks on Georgian-linked businesses and Georgians living in Russia, according to local media.

The checks came as Russia severed all transport and postal links with Georgia amid a spying row.

On October 2, Georgia handed back four Russian soldiers accused of spying, but Russia is nevertheless proceeding with the sanctions.

MORE: Coverage in Georgian from RFE/RL’s Georgian Service and in Russian from RFE/RL’s Russian Service.
Andrei Kokoshin, the head of the Duma’s CIS Relations Committee, said the lower house of parliament today will pass a statement denouncing the Georgian government’s “anti-Russian” policies.

“[The statement] expresses concern over [Georgia’s] policy of violating human rights and basic democratic freedoms and, of course, the provocative actions against Russian peacekeepers and military personnel,” Kokoshin said.

The Russian parliament is also expected to pass a bill that could ban Georgians working in Russia from wiring money home.

Russia says hundreds of millions of dollars are transferred from Russia to Georgia each year.

(compiled from agency reports)

Russia Warns Georgia Against Blackmail

October 4, 2006 — President Vladimir Putin said today no country, specifically Georgia, should be allowed to use the “language of provocations and blackmail” against Russia.

Putin discussed with lawmakers the arrest last week of four Russian soldiers on spying charges.

The lower house of parliament is expected later today to pass a tough-worded statement denouncing the Georgian government’s policies.

Despite the soldiers’ release on October 2, Russia severed all transport and postal links with Georgia.

Police, meanwhile began sweeping checks on Georgian-linked businesses and Georgians living in Russia.

Authorities closed a Georgian-owned casino in Moscow and raided several other businesses, and said they uncovered a large number of fake visas for Georgian immigrants.

Also, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said today the Russian Navy will continue a training exercise in the Black Sea, ignoring complaints from Georgia.

Ivanov, on a visit to Kyrgyzstan, said Russia would not change its plans “every time [President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s regime sneezes.”

Georgia has called the Russian exercises a threat to security and a breach of the United Nations charter.

(compiled from agency reports)

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