Sukhumi says there are no Russian servicemen in Kodori Gorge

There are no Russian servicemen with the exception of peace-makers in the Kodori Gorge, said Sergei Shamba, head of the Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia in a RIA Novosti telephone interview on Monday.

The Kodori Gorge is on Georgia's territory and is partially controlled by the armed forced of the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia.

Shamba refuted the reports of the Georgian side alleging that Russian servicemen had on the previous day gone over from Russia to the Kodori Gorge and taken part, together with Abkhaz units in the shelling of the Georgian helicopter last Sunday. This is not only a "sheer deliberate misinformation, but also a new act of provocation on the part of Georgia," said Shamba.

The head of the Abkhazian foreign ministry noted that "in connection with the actions of the Georgian authorities in militarizing the Kodori Gorge, Sukhumi was compelled to bring its troops there." "However, we observe all conditions of the agreements and are not deploying our military in areas where Swans reside," he noted. "However, the Georgians authorities are setting up their posts far beyond the bounds of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge," pointed out Shamba.

According to the representative of Sukhumi, the current tension in the Kodori Gorge is the result of the fact that Georgia has been militarizing that area since last year. "By now Tbilisi has already taken under its military control, which, according to the agreements, were controlled neither by the Abkhaz nor the Georgian sides," he noted. "The Swans live there, with whom we have a gentleman's agreement and with whom we have no problems." Shamba said that "of late Tbilisi has been trying to expand the zone of its control, landing from helicopters so-called frontier-guards far beyond the limits of the upper part of the Kodori Gorge." "We are trying to settle that problem by political means," said Shamba, stressing "that the Abkhaz military have been ordered not to get involved in military actions while Sukhumi is trying to settle the situation politically."

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