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Abkhaz Defense Minister: Our Officers are Trained in Russia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Mar.'05 / 17:17

Abkhaz defense minister Sultan Sosnaliev told the kreml.org website that the senior and middle-ranking officers in the Abkhaz army are regularly sent to Russia for 2-3 month training courses within the framework of the Russia's "Vystrel" (Shot) program.

He also said all Abkhazia residents should be conscripts of the army, including the Georgian residents in Gali district, as the Abkhaz authorities "do not differentiate based on nationality. The Laws are for everybody: all citizens serve [in the army]," Sosnaliev said. 

Sosnaliev added that the ministry would continue to improve the training and readiness of the reserve and that he intends to attract some of his comrades-in-arms back to the military.

Sosnaliev, a citizen of Russia's Kabardino-Balkaria Republic served as Abkhaz defense minister from 1992-93, during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. His comrades-in-arms include North caucasian and Russian mercenaries that fought on Abkhaz side during the secessionist conflict.

Noting with regret that "unfortunately, in the past years there has been a growth in certain relaxation, even pacifistic, tendencies" in the Abkhaz society, Sosnaliev said he intends to strengthen all branches of the army, including the navy and the air defense.  Lt.Gen. of the Soviet Army Anatoly Zaytsev, reportedly a citizen of Byelorussia, was appointed Chief of Staff.  Reports say Zaytsev served on a USSR military advisor team to Syria's Hafez Assad.

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