Georgia

Georgia: Sides speak of provocative actions in South Ossetia

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Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, the Commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces stationed in the South Ossetian conflict zone, described the blocking of the major road into the region by relatives of four missing Georgians as a provocation backed by certain unspecified forces, the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported on July 16.

"This action is used by certain interested persons to fuel tensions and destabilize the situation in the conflict zone," Maj. Gen. Kulakhmetov said.

Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Giorgi Khaindrava also said on July 16 that the blocking of roads in the conflict zone triggers tensions. He called for the protesters, who demand an intensification of the search operations being carried out for the mission four man, for restraint and expressed fear that "our enemies" might use these actions to further fuel tensions in the conflict zone.

"I want you to pay attention to what I said at a news conference today. I said that there are currently a group of FSB (Federal Security Service of Russia) officials [in South Ossetia]. Key positions in the South Ossetian government are held by Russian citizens who were directly appointed from Moscow," Giorgi Khaindrava told Rustavi 2 television late on July 16.

Earlier on July 16 Giorgi Khaindrava convened a news conference and said that the situation in the conflict zone "is extremely tense."

Special Affairs Minister of breakaway South Ossetia Boris Chochiev, who is the unrecognized republic's chief negotiator, also said that the situation in the conflict zone "has been extremely aggravated in recent days," according to the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee.

In a letter sent on July 15 to the co-chairmen of the quadripartite (Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and Russia's North Ossetian) Joint Control Commission (JCC), which oversees the ceasefire in the conflict zone, Chochiev says that "the Georgian law enforcement agencies are inactive and take no measures" in order to implement the JCC agreement of June 22, envisaging free movement on the Trans Caucasus Highway, a major route in the conflict zone.

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