LUKASHENKO WILL VISIT MOSCOW ONLY FOR PUTIN’S SAKE

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LUKASHENKO WILL VISIT MOSCOW ONLY FOR PUTIN’S SAKE

Izvestia, August 14, 2002, p. 4

Russian Ambassador in Belarus Vladimir Grigoryev has explained the long pause in relations between Belarus and Russia on Belorussian television as follows: “Integration processes need no hurry… This does not mean that the president’s working groups have not been working. They have been working very intensively.”

According to Grigoryev, Russia and Belarus must become partners basing on their sovereignty: “This will allow us to solve problems in the economic, humanitarian, and social sectors very quickly.” The ambassador said that unification of gas and railroad tariffs has allows Russian and Belorussian producers to receive “so-called dividends, worth 1.2 billion rubles”. The ambassador did not specify who has received more “so-called dividends”. Meanwhile, he said that the president will raise the issue of “a certain increase” of gas deliveries to Belarus, at their meeting.

Lukashenko held a special meeting on the eve of his visit to Russia at which the prime minister reported the progress of realization of Russian-Belorussian agreements. According to the prime minister, the majority of agreements and instructions given by the presidents in June “are being fulfilled”. Nevertheless, some issues require additional discussions. In particular, this concerns the principle of collecting indirect taxes and gas deliveries to Belarus.

The cochairman of the working group for preparing the draft of a constitutional bill of the union state reported the progress of drawing up this document. Lukashenko said: “The Union of Russia and Belarus is not a game. Cooperation with Russia is and will be our priority foreign political and foreign economic task.”

TBILISI AND SUKHUMI ARE ON BRINK OF WAR

Izvestia, August 14, 2002, p. 4

An attempt of the Georgian and Abkhazian sides to relieve peacefully the critical situation in the Kodor Gorge miscarried. During the Tuesday’s negotiations between the Georgian State Minister Avtandil Jorbenadze and the Abkhazian Prime Minister Henry Jergenia in Tchuburkhinji village, the information, which obliterated utterly all the conciliatory attempts. The Georgian and Abkhazian armed units opened fire near the Marukh pass. The started negotiations had to be closed.

This information was confirmed in Tbilisi. According to the officials of the administration of Emzar Kvitsiani, the Georgian presidential envoy in the Kodor Gorge, fighting flared up about 1 p.m. yesterday near Tchkhalta village. The sources in Tbilisi say that the representatives of both sides came to an agreement in the morning that the reinforced Abkhazian company, which had been transferred to the gorge upper reaches, would leave this region in a short time. However, as soon as the Georgian soldiers began to leave their position, the Abkhazians allegedly opened fire with submachine guns and grenade cup discharges. The Georgians replied to the enemy fire.

There isn’t any information about some killed or wounded but it is clear that this incident threatens to develop into the serious armed conflict. Tbilisi and Sukhumi are, as a matter of fact, on the brink of another war.

The Georgian Defense Ministry and the Republic Frontier Department corroborate the fact of skirmish in the Kodor Gorge.

Irakliy Batiashvili, Chairman of the Parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, confirmed this information too and stated that, in spite of the crisis situation in the Kodor Gorge, Georgia should defy all the provocations. According to him, everybody in Tbilisi knew that this very scenario had being prepared by the Abkhazian side in the gorge. Irakliy Batiashvili and a group of the Georgian deputies has already left for the Kodor Gorge.

Hundreds of reservists from the veteran union “War and Peace” and volunteers from the “Union of the Georgian Patriots” are ready to go there too. Irakliy Lomidze, leader of the “War and Peace” union stated that the reservists of this union, who had smelt powder, were ready to go to defend the Kodor Gorge by the first order. He said that the plan of the reservists’ transfer from Tbilisi to the Kodor Gorge had been already worked up. In case of need they are ready to go there by cars, because the Abkhazians threatened on Monday that they would shake down any Georgian helicopters which appear over the gorge.

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