Russian peacekeepers monument in Sokhumi. Photo: mil.ru
Lavrov’s respect for territorial integrity – Friends of Georgia group expresses support – Janelidze lists international law violations – November numbers for the occupation line detentions – Bibilov reiterates his wish to see Tskhinvali Region within Russia – Russian peacekeepers monument opened in Sokhumi – Moscow to increase Tskhinvali internal affairs salaries – Bibilov’s representatives have a meeting in the Russian Security Council – Khloponin and Kuznetsov in Abkhazia – New recruits at the Russian base in Abkhazia.
Dispatch from Moscow – Lavrov’s respect for territorial integrity: Answering a Georgian journalist’s question when Russia would be ready to recognize Georgia’s territorial integrity, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “We respect the territorial integrity of Georgia, just as we respect the territorial integrity of two new independent states – republic of Abkhazia and republic of South Ossetia.”
Western Voices – Friends of Georgia group expresses support: Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, collectively known as the Group of Friends of Georgia, issued a statement during the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council, reaffirming their “full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” and calling on Russia to “fully implement the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, inter alia to withdraw its military forces from the occupied territories of Georgia.”
View from Tbilisi – Janelidze lists international law violations: Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze spoke at the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council, held in Vienna, where he listed some of the specific things that are wrong about the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region: “Russian occupation forces closed most of the so called crossing points across the occupation line, increased military presence, conducted more than 70 military exercises, through illegal agreements unified the military structures, continued the process of so called borderization and installed barbed wires dividing families, kidnapped hundreds of local civilians, prohibited native-language education in schools, continued deprivation of residence and property rights to ethnic Georgians, and et cetera.” Janelidze also mentioned “the recent reactivation of the policy of ethnic cleansing,” bringing up the demolition of “263 houses of Georgian IDPs in Eredvi village of the occupied Tskhinvali Region under the so called Russian investment program.”
On the Line – November numbers for the occupation line detentions: 66 people were illegally detained at the occupation line in November. 51 of them were taken at Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia line, and 15 more by the Russian FSB border guards at Abkhazia line. Most of the detainees usually are local residents trying to conduct agricultural activities on their land, or move between their properties stranded at different sides of the occupation line.
Tskhinvali Happenings – Bibilov reiterates his wish to see Tskhinvali Region within Russia: Speaking at a book presentation in Tskhinvali, Anatoly Bibilov made it clear again he wanted to see “unified Ossetia” that would be a part of Russia, saying: “I am personally convinced that Ossetia must be unified, and this unification must happen within the Russian Federation.”
Russia’s Network – Russian peacekeepers monument opened in Sokhumi: A six-meter stela with a two-meter statue of a soldier in front of it was unveiled in Sokhumi. The Sokhumi Russian-backed authorities’ leadership was attending, along with representatives of the Russian government and military, as well as the Russian FSB border guards that serve in Abkhazia. The idea is to commemorate the Russian troops that were stationed in Abkhazia with the formal status of peacekeepers in 1994-2008.
Russia’s Network – Moscow to increase Tskhinvali internal affairs salaries: The Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities are hopeful about an agreement with Russia that envisions increase of salaries, funded by Moscow, for the members of “internal affairs agencies” of South Ossetia. “Deputy internal affairs minister” Tarzan Kokoity said the salaries and social guarantees for the employees would reach the level that stands for the internal affairs agencies’ members in the Russian North Caucasus.
Russia’s Network – Bibilov’s representatives have a meeting in the Russian Security Council: Tskhinvali “security council secretary” Valery Valiev and “head of the president’s administration” Igor Kozaev went to Moscow to meet with the Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council Rashid Nurgaliyev.
Russia’s Network – Khloponin and Kuznetsov in Abkhazia: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin and Minister for North Caucasus Lev Kuznetsov went to Sokhumi to discuss Moscow’s “investment program” in Abkhazia in a meeting with the local Russian-backed authorities.
The Military Aspect – New recruits at the Russian base in Abkhazia: 600 new recruits arrived to the Russian military base in Abkhazia as a part of servicemen rotation there. The recruits were drafted in October and November from various parts of the Russian Federation, such as the Volga basin regions of Astrakhan, Mari El, Mordovia and Udmurtia.