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Officials Visit Kodori
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Jul.'07 / 12:43

Georgian authorities are marking the one-year anniversary of the restoration of control over upper Kodori Gorge in breakaway Abkhazia on July 26.

Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia and State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Davit Bakradze are in the area to mark the occasion. They attended an opening of a local office of NATO Information Center there.

Central control over upper Kodori Gorge was restored after the authorities cracked down on local rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani last summer.

Tbilisi sent troops to the gorge on July 25 after Kvitsiani, a leader of Monadire (Hunter), a paramilitary group, called for the overthrow of the government. Four officers from the Interior Ministry were reportedly injured during skirmishes on July 25.

On July 26, 2006 the central authorities announced they controlled most of the upper Kodori Gorge and that Kvitsiani was surrounded by government forces.

The following day a local female resident was killed in the crossfire in the village of Chkhalta, where Kvitsiani was besieged. In an attempt to prevent further civilian casualties, Kvitsiani and his followers were allowed through the military cordon. He fled to Russia and is now wanted in Georgia on treason charges.

After restoring control in the gorge, the central authorities relocated the headquarters of the previously Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government-in-exile there and renamed the area Upper Abkhazia. Sokhumi, in response, pulled out of talks with Tbilisi and said it would resume negotiations only after the Georgian side had withdrawn from the area.

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