Russia: July 3, 2002

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Relations between the Georgian Republic and Russia remain strained, particularly over the issue of Abkhazia. Russian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Kvashnin delivered a letter to the State Duma on 3 July, accusing Georgian regular troops and local militiamen of illegally occupying positions in Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge. By the 2 April 2002 Kodori gorge settlement, Georgia was supposed to withdraw its troops from the area. Kvashnin also informed the Russian legislators that the Abkhaz leadership had appealed to the CIS military cooperation coordination headquarters for additional peacekeeping posts, particularly near Chkhalta village and on the Khid pass. 

However, Chechen rebels might create strange bedfellows. Russian radio intercepts indicate that rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov is actively negotiating with rebel warlord Ruslan Gelayev, trying to convince him to slip his 250 - 300 fighters from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge into Chechnya by mid-July. Georgian political observer Ramaz Klimiashvili noted that Tbilisi might consider a joint Georgia-Russia-U.S. raid against Chechen rebels hiding in the gorge. If Georgia agrees to Russian participation in reestablishing order in the Pankisi, it would gain the political capital to raise the Abkhaz and South Ossetian issues in future talks with Moscow. Klimiashvili admitted that there were many people in Georgia's current administration who would object to any form of cooperation, since a successful operation would bring an end to their lucrative trade in illegal immigrants, arms and drugs through the Pankisi into Chechnya. - Adam Geibel

In Chechnya, a Russian Health Ministry official and his two bodyguard were killed in an ambush. This attack was said to have something to do with the officials investigation of corruption in Chechnya (money for health programs being stolen by officials.)

 

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