Tue, May 21 2013
Russia was ready to defend its allies in Abkhazia if Georgia attacked them, Bulgarian-language Dnevnik quoted the Russian Defence Ministry as saying on April 29 2008.
According to Russian news agency Itar-Taas, Georgia had concentrated about 7000 troops along its borders with Abkhazia populated with a non-Georgian but pro-Russian population. The troops were ready to attack at any minute, Itar-Tass said.
Georgia wanted to retain its control over Abkhazia, a state that had proclaimed itself an (unrecognised) autonomous republic.
Russia's defence ministry said it was ready to protect Abkhazia and had extended the number of Russian peace keepers in the troubled area in the Caucasus, Dnevnik said.
Dnevnik quoted the Georgian foreign ministry as saying that Russia's statements were a form of disinformation aimed at giving Russia the excuse to concentrate troops in the area.
Speaking on the BBC, a Georgian foreign ministry's spokesperson said that indeed there were Georgian officials in the area. However, they were not troops but police officers.
Under communism Abkhazia had the status of an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
After the fall of the Berlin wall, Georgia abolished the Soviet-era constitution and restored its own constitution, leaving little room for autonomous Abkhazia. In response, in 1992 the Abkhazia government had effectively declared secession from Georgia, triggering one of the bloodiest conflicts in the post-Soviet era.
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