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Tbilisi Says Russia ‘Fabricates’ Missile Incident Evidence

Georgia has claimed Russian peacekeepers “illegally” conducted additional monitoring in order to put forth “fabricated evidence” in an attempt to re-direct blame away from Russia over the August 6 missile incident.

A second monitoring was carried out on August 8, a day after the joint monitoring team of Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) and OSCE observers inspected the incident site and interviewed eyewitnesses from nearby villages and JPKF observation posts.

According to a report, prepared on August 7 by the joint monitoring team, witnesses said they had seen an aircraft flying in a south-westerly direction. These testimonies were in line with Georgia’s allegations, based on air traffic records, that the aircraft entered and exited Georgian airspace over the Georgian town of Stepantsminda (formerly Kazbegi) on the Russian border. Stepantsminda is to the north-east of Tsitelubani village, where the unexploded rocket dropped by the aircraft was found. Based on this joint monitoring, the OSCE Mission in Georgia prepared a separate spot report which summarizes the initial findings.

The Georgian State Ministry for Conflict Resolution Issues said on August 10, the Russian command of the JPKF had unilaterally decided to carry out an additional monitoring on August 8 “in order to revise and question the findings of the August 7 monitoring.”

According to the State Ministry, the Russian peacekeepers interviewed “several elderly women” in the village of Armazi in breakaway South Ossetia, who claimed they had seen an aircraft flying from the east and not from the north-east as claimed by most of the eyewitnesses interviewed by the joint monitoring team on August 7.

The South Ossetian-administered village of Armazi is beyond the zone of responsibility of the JPKF. Going beyond this zone is a violation of the mandate, the Georgian State Ministry said.

As a result, the State Ministry said the Georgian side has refused to sign the report based on the August 8 monitoring. OSCE observers have also declined to sign it, according to the State Ministry. Comment from the OSCE Mission in Georgia was not immediately available.

“We express our firm protest over the violation of the mandate by the JPKF Russian command and also call on the Russian side to give up attempts to disseminate disinformation and to stop politically-motivated actions,” the Georgian State Ministry said in a statement.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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