Georgia

Georgia: State Minister: Situation alarming in S.Ossetian conflict zone

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Georgian State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Giorgi Khaindrava said at a news conference on July 16 that the situation in the South Ossetian conflict zone "is being deliberately aggravated" by "certain forces," hinting at the involvement of the Russian side.

"The situation is developing [in the conflict zone] exactly in accordance to the scenario written by our enemies," Giorgi Khaindrava said.

The situation started to deteriorate on May 29 when four Ossetians and one Georgian policeman were killed in a shootout near the Georgian village of Tamarasheni. This incident was followed by the disappearance of four Georgians in the conflict zone on June 6. Their whereabouts remain unknown at present. After this latter incident, the relatives of the missing men started blocking major roads into the conflict zone, demanding an intensification of search operations.

"We were predicting these kind of developments, especially after Russia totally took over control in South Ossetia by appointing its officials," Khaindrava said, referring to the recent appointment of Russian citizen Yuri Morozov as the unrecognized republic's Prime Minister.

Khaindrava said that both the May 29 and June 6 incidents are part of "well-planned" provocations, which aim at increasing tensions among the local population in the conflict zone.

"I absolutely understand the relatives of those four Georgians who have been missing for more than a month. They [relatives] know nothing about the fate [of those who disappeared]," Khaindrava said, adding that he rules out that these four persons were kidnapped as retaliation for the May 29 incident, wherein four Ossetian militias were killed in a shootout with Georgian police.

He also said that sending humanitarian aid, which, as Khaindrava said, also includes military equipment, to South Ossetia by the Moscow Mayor's Office is part of this provocation.

"Despite our numerous protests, a convoy of freight from Russia, which includes military equipment - field kitchens, uniforms etc. has been delivered [to South Ossetia]," Khaindrava said.

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