Militant Leader Is Being Treated In Tbilisi Hospital, Claims Abkhazian Prime Minister

Anri Dzhergeniya, prime minister of Abkhazia (a self-proclaimed republic on Georgian territory), claimed at a Moscow press conference today that he had information that Chechen bandit leader Ruslan Gelayev was being treated in a Tbilisi hospital. According to him, the militant had been wounded twice and was receiving treatment in Georgia. Dzhergeniya said that Abkhazia knew how Chechen and Georgian militants under Gelayev's leadership penetrated the Kodori gorge, which is situated in the area of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. According to information possessed by the Abkhazian secret services, the gangs were planning to set up a base there for their future operations. Dzhergeniya reported that Abkhazia had maps, evidence from former prisoners and video recordings proving that the militants were intending to break through Abkhazia to Babushera airport. The bandits would then exploit the situation to provoke the populations of the neighbouring Georgian regions that would in turn lead to the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict being resolved by force. Dzhergeniya also said that 10 people - Chechens, Georgians, Azeris and immigrants from the North Caucasus - had been taken prisoner by Abkhazia during fighting in the Kodori gorge. The prime minister stressed that their fate would be decided by a court in accordance with the law.

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