President Putin: Tactic of non-violent forcing of terrorists out of Pankisi Gorge is unacceptable

President Vladimir Putin of Russia considers unacceptable the tactic of the non-violent forcing of terrorists out of the Pankisi Gorge, says a message by the President of Russia forwarded to President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, RIA Novosti has learned from the Kremlin press-service.

The message stresses that Russia is "seriously concerned about the situation in the Pankisi Gorge, where a considerable number of armed Chechen militants and international terrorists are concentrated, whose stay on Georgian territory poses a direct threat to the security of Georgia." At the same time, said the Russian leader, "the question of maintaining internal stability is certainly an issue of the exclusive competence of the Georgian authorities and Russia is prepared to render assistance in the interests of common security and peace in Transcaucasia only if a direct request to this effect comes from the Georgian authorities." "What we mean is that Georgia-based militants continue to sow death and destruction on Russian soil," stressed the president.

"In this situation," the President thinks, "Russia has every reason to insist, in keeping with the norms of international law, that Tbilisi take exhaustive measures to cut short the activity of bandit formations in the Pankisi Gorge." "With the Georgian side having for a long time ignored Russia's proposals on establishing close cooperation between secret and frontier services of the two countries for raising a strong barrier on the Russian-Georgian border against the bandits, they have quietly entrenched themselves on Georgian territory and created a bridgehead in Pankisi, from where they launch raids against Russia," states the Russian President.

The President believes that "political will is necessary to effectively put out the seat of terrorism in the Pankisi Gorge," and that "purposeful, decisive and concrete actions are necessary to render the bandit formations on Georgian soil harmless." The tactic of the non-violent forcing out of the terrorists is unacceptable," he declared.

The message expresses the hope that the "operation carried out by law-enforcers and the military of Georgia in the Pankisi Gorge is meant to achieve a real result - that the terrorists will be sealed off, disarmed and made to appear before the world public." The President noted at the same time that "Russia proceeds from the belief that subsequently they will be handed over to the Russian side." In this connection the message expresses readiness to help competent Georgian bodies "detect and establish the identities of the terrorists who have committed criminal actions on the territory of the Russian Federation." With this in view Vladimir Putin proposed that a group of special envoys of Russian law-enforcement structures be sent to Georgia.

The President of Russia also confirmed the "readiness of the appropriate Russian departments to cooperate with their Georgian counterparts and exchange information and material of the actual flight records of aircraft in the area of the Russian-Georgian border." The message stresses that "Russia invariably follows the traditional line towards the development of friendly, good-neighbourly relations between the two countries and seeks to translate these relations into allied cooperation and strategic partnership."

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