Russian Defense Minister Speaks His Mind About Georgian Situation

When assessing the situation in the Kodori gorge in Abkhazia today, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists that it was becoming "absolutely clear that either the Georgian leadership is not in control of the situation on its territory, or it is being manipulated by terrorists for their aims." The minister said that Moscow did not see any real preparedness on the part of the Georgian leadership to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. "According to our information, there are several hundreds of gunmen concentrated in the region of the Kodori gorge," said Ivanov. The Russian defense minister confirmed that a helicopter carrying UN observers had been shot down yesterday over the Kodori gorge in Abkhazian territory. Following talks with his British counterpart Geoff Hoon, Ivanov announced that it had been claimed at a meeting of the UN secretariat yesterday that the helicopter had been shot down by Chechen and Georgian bandits. "I think that this speaks of the seriousness of the situation developing on the territory of Georgia," said the minister. When commenting on Russia's position in relation to Georgia's sovereignty, Ivanov said that "Russia has recognized, recognizes and will recognize Georgia's sovereignty over all of its territory."

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