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Tension in the Pankisi Valley Has Been Provoked by Russia

Today’s press pays special attention to the tensed situation still existing in the Pankisi Valley. `Even though Eduard Shevardnadze the President of Georgia does not regard the existing condition in Pankisi alarming situation in Kakheti (eastern Georgia, part of which the Pankisi Valley is) is overwrought anyway`, `the Akhali Taoba` says. The newspaper points at the feebleness and activeless of the government while announces that the Pankisi Valley inhabitants stopped waiting for the authorities and decided to defend themselves independently (see 14.07.2001 Georgian press review). The captured remain in hostage and Georgians and Kists are still armed.   

Georgian press is filled with indignation because of a statement a Kist criminal authority made through television. In his statement he actually made an ultimatum to whole Georgia and even posed threat to it saying: in case Kist hostages are not released we are ready to make adequate actions. `Probably neither the Kist authority nor anybody else could dare talk this way if the government of Georgia and especially law enforcement bodies were as respectable as they are supposed to be`, `the Akhali Taoba` says.

Agreement about the exchange of hostages was the only result achieved through negotiations with Kists living in Pankisi. That meant Kists admit that they have hostages also, so the above-mentioned threat was `unfair`.

Revaz Shavishvili, former head of the Control Palate, a still influential authority, gave interview to `the Resonance`. According to him, Russia has a particular plan concerning the Caucasus. The plan is about creating conflict between Georgia and north Caucasian people, moving Chechens upset on Georgians to the territory of Abkhazia before the withdrawal of Russian military base from Gudauta, Abkhazia and envolving Georgia in local armed conflict. `The plan is implemental and everyone should understand the reality of danger`, Shavishvili said.

In the interview with `the Resonance` Shavishvili pointed out that Georgia should partially expel the idea of having clash with Chechens because conflict between Chechens and Georgians might cause all the ethnic groups of northern Caucasus oppose Georgia. Besides, Russia’s plan foresees Georgian-Armenian and Georgian-Azerian conflict as well. It is clear that Georgia’s northern neighbor tries to use an old proverb successfully, which is the following: `separate and govern`.  

What does Russia need Georgia for? `Caucasus and especially Georgia with its communicative functions is a key for passing its lively interests in the Middle East`, Shavishvili announced. He does not hide that some authorities in the Georgian government support Russia succerssfully.

`The Dilis Gazeti` points at a way of solving the problem existing in the Pankisi Valley. `The time has come that more attention be paid on the Valley because of its military-strategic importance`, the newspaper says. It considers that specially prepared armed groups should definitely be located there. This opinion partially objects that of Shavishvili, according to which Caucasian people should not react on the provocation for its aim is to create conflict between them.

On the other hand, `the Dilis Gazeti` repeals its claim about arming and says that the only way out of the situation created in the Pankisi Valley is to inspire `clash of interests` there. `All the above said does not mean that Georgia should change its position towards the conflict in Chechnya but corresponding force should definitely assist `the clash of interests`, the newspaper states. 

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