UNSG backs Georgia IDPs – U.S. says Russians should go – UK, US citizens behind barbs – Gali identity change push continues – Medoev relishes spotlight – Tskhinvali fans U.S.-made germs paranoia – Security agency gets Sokhumi head – 49th army keeps training
António Guterres speaks on the right of return for the displaced people in Georgia: During a meeting with journalists, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said that the rights of the people displaced from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia “should always be stressed.” Guterres praised Georgia for the way it handles the displaced population, but added that the right of return “is one of the central aspects of the human rights.”
Western Voices – The U.S. wants to see Russian troops withdrawn from the occupied territories: The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Defense and Security Cooperation Working Group issued a statement saying the U.S. is stressing its “unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” and calling on Russia to “withdraw its forces from Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions, in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement.”
On the Line – American, British tourists detained: A British man and an American woman were briefly detained at the Tskhinvali Region line of control by the local Russian-backed authorities. The incident occurred after the two reportedly crossed into Akhalgori Municipality, which had been occupied by the Russian military in the days following the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. The two tourists had traveled to Georgia on bicycles through Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan. Authorities in Tskhinvali said the tourists were fined and expelled from the region.
Sokhumi Happenings – Amtsakhara goes to Gali: The Abkhaz opposition Amtsakhara party is expanding its presence to Gali District, which has mostly ethnic Georgian population. The head of the party’s newly-opened Gali office Suram Jinjolia says that one of his priorities is to push for the local people to change their Georgian surnames and identity into the Abkhaz ones. In this instance Amtsakhara’s stance is identical to that of the Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities.
Tskhinvali Happenings – Medoev discusses Latin America, Ukraine: Tskhinvali “foreign minister” Dmitry Medoev used another of his interviews to share views on world politics. Among Medoev’s conclusions was the assertion that “the practice of the so called color revolutions hardly has any potential in the Latin American countries, because almost every country of the region has its own quite rich revolutionary experience, as well as counter-revolutionary one.” Medoev said he and his colleagues would keep working on developing ties in the region. On another note, Medoev dismissed the Ukrainian national identity, saying: “it will not be news if I follow the giants of the world science in saying that the Russians and the Ukrainians are the same people.”
Tskhinvali Happenings – Tskhinvali leadership is afraid of biological warfare: In a meeting with the Geneva talks co-chairs, representatives of the Russian-backed Tskhinvali authorities said they were concerned “about appearance on the territory of Georgia of the epidemiological human and animal diseases atypical for the region, as well as the work of the so called Lugar Laboratory in Georgia, and the epidemic outbreaks of dangerous diseases in South Ossetia that have become more frequent in the last years.”
Russia’s Network – New Russian-staffed agency head appointed in Abkhazia: An Abkhaz militia colonel, called Beslan Parulua, has been appointed as the head of the new law enforcement agency that will host Russian Ministry of Interior officers, to be based in Abkhazia on a permanent basis.
The Military Aspect – Regional exercise in the Caucasus: The Russian 49th Army, based in the western Caucasus, held large exercises. Besides the occupied Abkhazia, the drills took place in Adygea, Krasnodar and Stavropol regions of Russia.