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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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Abkhaz Airspace and Feverish Pig Allegations Follow Georgia's Russian Missile Case

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- Georgian airspace continues to thicken with innuendo. A day after Russia accused Georgia of "making up" what it calls the Russian missile attack of August 6, Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania cited other nations' reports as fingering Russia for the missile.

   Amb. Alasania also accused Russia of a new violation of Georgian airspace, this time next to the breakaway region of Abkhazia.  And the next day, Abkhazia accused Georgia of violating its airspace. While some question whether a breakaway republic can have airspace that can be violated, there is a UN monitoring mission in Abkhazia, and the UN Secretary General recently criticized in a report Georgia's "patriotic youth camp" near Abkhazia.

            From MIGs to Pigs: Abkhazia's allegation involves an unmanned aircraft.  Meanwhile, the "Portal on Global Pig Production" reports, regarding two cases of African Swine Fever, that "de facto Abkhaz authorities there were quick to blame Georgia for the outbreak, claiming the virus spread to Abkhazia from Tbilisi-controlled upper Kodori Gorge. Separatist Abkhaz representatives allege Georgians intentionally threw dead, infected pigs into the Enguri River, the de facto boundary between secessionist-controlled and Tbilisi-controlled territory."

            So will Georgia have more success getting UN Security Council action on violations, even if only of air, near Abkhazia than the missile near the other breakaway zone, South Ossetia? On August 22, Inner City Press asked Amb. Alasania just that, starting by characterizing the UN as having chosen not to get involved in the investigations of the missile. Video here, from Minute 20:19.

            "I wouldn't say the Security Council did not involve itself in the matter," Amb. Alasania said, pointing to the briefing of the Council by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. But no action was taken, not even a press statement.

Georgian Amb. Alasania discusses Russian allegations - but not yet those of Abkhazia

            Meanwhile, Amb. Alasania hearkened back to 1993, saying that "the Russian air force opened backed separatists and bombed Georgian civilians. The pilot of the Su-27 fighter-bomber downed by Georgia fighters on March 19, 1993, was a major in the Russian air force... A few moments prior to this press briefing I was informed that on 21 August 2007, at 18:46-18:49, the Georgian anti-aircraft defense system tracked twice the violations of the Georgian state border and incursion into Georgian airspace from the Russian Federation... in Upper Abkhazia."

            Amb. Alasania made an argument (which some see as analogous to UNDP) that "Russia blocking" Security Council  action "indicated they are trying to escape discussion, to cover up their own involvement. If they are innocent," they should welcome discussion. Just like UNDP blocking the UN Ethics Office from action on retaliation against a UNDP whistleblower, click here from that story.

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  Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without DPA having respond.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540