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At the UN, Georgia Speaks of Russians with AK-47s, Russia Speaks of Rust

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

UNITED NATIONS, October 15 -- Even as both Russia and Georgia praised the resolution passed 15-0 by the UN Security Council on Monday concerning the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, their war of words flared. Georgian Ambassador Irakli Alasania said that "patriotic camps are not the threat to peace, it is Russian officers with Kalashnikovs wandering in Georgia forests that are the threat." Inner City Press had asked Amb. Alasania, and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, about the "patriotic youth camp" that Georgia had opened over the summer next to Abkhazia. Told that it had been seasonal and was now closed, Amb. Churkin said "I hope that season will never return, it was a provocative thing to begin with." Video here, from Minute 5:20.

            Amb. Churkin also emphasized that in a disputed September 20 incident, Georgian forces had shot dead two "Abkhazians... at point-blank range." Amb. Alasania acknowledged that the UN's report placed in the incident within the territory controlled by Abkhazia -- though only "300 meters, a few football fields" inside, he said -- but he said that Georgia has evidence that the two shot men were "still on active duty with the Russian Ministry of Defense Intelligence Unit." He referred to a "distortion of fact.. by the high-ranking Russian diplomat," naming Churkin without naming him. Video here.  Amb. Churkin later said, "I didn't hear Ambassador Alasania's comments," and an email sent to the Russian mission's spokeswoman was not returned by deadline.

            The he-said, she-said nature of Georgia - Russia relations extend to the August missile incident near South Ossentia, with Amb. Churkin reiterating that the missile was covered with rust, and Amb. Alasania saying that it "clearly... came from Russian airspace." Amb. Alasania also said that the OSCE will again be discussing the missile "in the next couple days." Inner City Press asked if Georgia would still like the issue considered by the Security Council; Amb. Alasania again said that Georgia's previous request has not been withdrawn.

Russian peacekeeper on Georgia-Abkhazia border

    For the record, both sides pointed to Paragraph 15 of Monday's resolution, which speaks of the property rights of persons previously displaced from Abkhazia, and to Paragraph 18 of the October 3 report on Abkhazia, which merely recites the two sides' versions of the September 20 "armed clash between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides."

            To the side of the Security Council chamber, a Georgian diplomat complained that "Russia controls the Security Council -- hell, they helped invent it." He paused and added, "But really that was by a Georgian, Joseph Stalin." Plus ca change...

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece 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