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Georgia Accuses Russia of "Blackmailing" UN on Abkhazia, Ban's 2nd Term Mentioned

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 27, updated May 28, DPRK draft here -- Russia "blackmailed" the UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon into changing Mr. Ban's report on Abkhazia, Georgia's Ambassador to the UN Alexander Lomaia told the Press on Wednesday. Inner City Press asked if he meant that Russia threatened to veto the resolution to extend the mandate of the UN observer mission there, or as many have speculated threated to veto a second term as Secretary General.

  Ambassador Lomaia said he has heard that, but that the threat he knows of "first had" is to veto the resolution to extent the mission's mandate, set to expire on June 15. Video here, from Minute 25:39.

  Since the conflict of last August in which, after Georgia sought to retake to frozen conflict zones, Russian recognized as independent both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has urged changes to the name of the "UN Observer Mission in Georgia," UNOMIG. To Russia, these areas are not longer Georgia. Therefore, according to Lomaia, Russia walked out of the talks on the areas in Geneva, until the UN re-titled its report.

  Lomaia mentioned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit with Ban Ki-moon on May 11 as part of the "pressure of Russia on the Secretariat." Video here, from Minute 13:19. After Ban Ki-moon wouldn't call Kosovo's breakaway from Serbia illegal, rumors circulated that Russia was threatening to veto Ban's future bid for a second term. Since then, Ban's position on Kosovo was become more pro Serbian and Russia, and now the report on Abkhazia [Georgia] is renamed. Lomaia called it blackmail. Only two journalists asked questions.

Georgia's Lomaia, who says UN's Ban's Secretariat was "blackmailed" by Russia

   Inner City Press asked about the unrest in Georgia, and also whether the country recognizes Kosovo's declaration of independences. Lomaia, whose predecessor Irakli Alasania is now a major opposition figure, said that Georgia respects the rights to free speech. On Kosovo, he said as he had to that Georgia does not recognize Kosovo's independence. When Inner City Press pointed out that on this, non-recognition of Kosovo, Georgia has the same position as Russia. Lomaia scoffed. He said that unlike Georgia's, Russia's commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity is selected.

  Comparative analysis: Given Russia's support of the Abkhazians' and South Ossetians' breakaway from Georgia, Russia's decided opposition to independence aspirations by Tamils in the northern part of Sri Lanka is striking. Russia focuses on the LTTE as terrorists, and anaogizes to Chechnya or the terrorist taking of the school in Beslan. Georgia claims that Abkhaz and South Ossetians engaged in ethnic cleansing, but does not use the word terrorism. Selectivity is everywhere. Watch this site.

Diplomatic footnote: after a by-invitation only briefing at the US Mission to the UN Wednesday afternoon, unrelated wire service  stories were published quoting unnamed... "U.N." diplomats that an agreement in principles on sanctions against North Korea had been reached. On May 28, France's Ambassador briefed selected journalists in the UN Delegates' Lounge, reportedly leading to a protest by uninvited television journalists perceived to be more interested in the Middle East. By contrast, Georgia's Ambassador Lomaia made his charges on the record on UN TV and took questions from any journalist who chose to come.

   Russia is somewhere in the middle: Ambassador Churkin spoke only briefly in English on UN TV -- Inner City Press asked for Russia's view on Ban's security zone proposal, Churkin said, Too early, video here from Minute 1:11 -- but then long longer to Russian media. It was translated for Inner City Press as including that Russia will seek an embargo against offensive weapons to Georgia. Lomaia bristled that Georgia has a right to reach what agreements it wants. And to say whatever it wants, apparently. We will continue to cover this.

Update of May 28 -- the following was put out by the UN:

Subj: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Georgia
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 5/28/2009 1:33:57 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

The claim by the Georgian Permanent Representative that the Secretary-General amended his report on Georgia in response to “Russian blackmail” is categorically rejected. The statement itself is very unfortunate.

The principal concern of the Secretary-General in the drafting of his Report has been that all concerned parties should engage on the substantive issues in question, more specifically on a mechanism to guarantee safety and security in this troubled region. The adoption of the title was meant to avoid unnecessary politicization of the debate among members of the Security Council and reflected his view of what all members could live with.

The Secretary-General rejects any suggestion that any threats were made to him in this connection.

   Note the phrase "any" threats...

Update of May 28, 6:20 p.m. --
Russian Ambassador Churkin came out of the Council's North Korea consultations to speak, not about the draft DPRK resolution which Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published Thursday morning, but rather about Georgia, and mostly in Russian. Inner City Press asked if he denies Georgia's claim that Russia blackmailed Ban Ki-moon into changing the title of the Secretariat's report on Abkazia / Georgia. Yes, he denies it. Amb. Churkin asked, You don't speak Russian yet? Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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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