Russian President Backs Idea Of Forming Joint Commission To Probe Into Pankisi Gorge Incident

Russian president Vladimir Putin has backed the Georgian president's initiative to set up a bilateral commission to investigate into the incident in the Pankisi Gorge where Russian aircraft allegedly bombed peaceful Georgian villages. According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, speaking at a news conference, the Russian president expressed his doubts as to whether the air strikes had taken place. We are talking about the bombing of peaceful villages but no casualties are reported, so what kind of bombing was it, asked President Putin. Vladimir Putin said with reference to the Russian sources that a mere clash between different militant groups had taken place in the Pankisi Gorge. The Russian head of state announced his intention to seriously discuss the incident along with the Chechen rebels' stationing on Georgian territory, with the Georgian president Friday. Vladimir Putin remarked that the Pankisi Gorge was difficult to reach even for the Georgian state structures. The area at issue is housing not only militants' bases but also enterprises producing drugs "poisonous for our peoples". According to Mr Putin, the area also has retransmission towers for the militants to keep in touch with the off-shore financial organisations providing for their terrorist activities.