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28 Apr, 2008 16:32

Georgia complains of Russia's ‘destructive’ actions

The special envoy of Georgia's President, David Bakradze, has attended a session of NATO in Brussels to discuss what Tbilisi calls ‘Russia's destructive steps in conflict zones’. The meeting of 26 member states was convened at Georgia's request.

A new wave of tensions between Russia and Georgia developed following Russia's decision to strengthen ties with the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This was further complicated last weekend when an unmanned Georgian spy plane flying over the Abkhazian territory was shot down on April 20. Tbilisi claimed the drone was downed by Russia, an allegation which Moscow denies saying Georgian aircraft were violating international treaties. For its part, Abkhazia admitted the plane was shot down by its air defence forces.

Bakradze offered to send experts to verify the on-ground radar information regarding the incident.

“We are ready to provide radar inspection information, such as radar data and, video footage for analysis. We have definite evidence and we welcome international involvement in this issue,” said Bakradze.

“Apart from the North Atlantic Alliance we are also taking the issue to the European Union,” he added.

The issue will also be discussed at the OSCE session next week.

At a meeting with the NATO’s Secretary General, Russia's representative at the Alliance, Dmitry Rogozin, has accused Georgia of using ‘provocative’ rhetoric.

Earlier, before leaving for Brussels, Bakradze told journalists he hoped the session at NATO headquarters will be effective and that ‘all grievances of the Georgian side will be taken into account’ at the upcoming Russia-NATO Council on April 30.

Georgia block talks on Russia’s entry to WTO

Georgia will agree on talks over Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation only if Russia doesn’t establish closer ties with its breakaway republics. Georgia's Deputy Minister for Economic Development was speaking during ongoing talks on Russia's accession in Geneva.

Earlier on Monday, Georgia blocked all future talks on Russia's entry.

Tblisi says the decision by the Russian government to increase co-operation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, contradicted the organisation's fundamental principles.

Georgia and Saudi Arabia are the only WTO member countries yet to reach an agreement with Russia on entering the organisation.

Russia has now approved a new document set to pave the way for a timetable for it to join.

Ready to defend Russian citizens

Meanwhile, Moscow has re-iterated it will use all resources to defend Russian citizens living in the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“We will not leave our fellow citizens in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the lurch in any event,” Valery Kenyaikin, the Foreign Ministry's Envoy for CIS, told a briefing in Moscow.

Georgia plans to issue arrest warrants for Russian businessmen investing in Abkhazia without its consent.

Abkhaz FM Sergey Shamba labelled the move ‘absurd’.

“You should go after businessmen whose actions are really illegal, like money laundering or organising offshore zones for example. If such things are indeed taking place we’ll be happy to see them stopped. As for those businessmen who are not involved in any illegal activities, no-one has a right to touch them, especially in the era of globalisation,” Shamba said.

Russia’s State Duma deputy Valery Draganov warned that millions might be affected by this move.

“I am not talking about businessmen only. I am talking about people who will not get the goods and services these businessmen are providing. Russia should not allow Georgia to turn Abkhazia into an economic ghetto. Russian businesses there are creating jobs. To just leave the region would mean that tensions there might escalate further, and Russia should not let that happen. One of the ways to avoid the escalation of conflict is to ensure that there’s normal business activity in the region,” Draganov said.