–GEORGIA DENIES PANKISI CHARGES
Georgia’s Interior Ministry on October 12 rejected Russian claims that Chechen fighters are located in the Pankisi Gorge. Ministry spokesman Guram Donadze told RIA Novosti that the area is currently guarded as never before. “If [rebel] fighters get to Chechnya through Georgia, then what are the Russian border guards and other structures that are located on the other side of the border—on the territory of Russia—doing?” he asked rhetorically. The ministry was reacting to comments made earlier Arkady Edelev, the federal Deputy Interior Minister, in London. Edelev claimed that Georgia is a transit route for separatist guerrillas returning to Chechnya and that several tens of fighters were either receiving medical treatment in—or trying to travel to—the Pankisi Gorge, as well as Jordan, Turkey and even Iraq. Rebel leaders, Edelev claimed, have cut off living expenses for Chechen fighters who are abroad in order to hasten their return home. The territory of Georgia is thus again a transit route for fighters returning to Chechnya, he asserted.
–ACTIVIST PREVENTED FROM SEEING TREPASHKIN
Lev Ponomarev of the For Human Rights group said on October 13 that he had been turned away from the jail in the Urals region city of Nizhny Tagil where former FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin is serving a four-year sentence for revealing state secrets, Interfax reported. “Under the guidance of the head of jail they simply threw Lev Ponomarev out from the penal colony,” said Trepashkin’s defense lawyer, Yelena Liptser. “The head of the jail banned him from entering the colony, saying that it was closed for public access.” Ponomarev had planned to attend hearings into Trepashkin’s case scheduled for October 13. Trepashkin, a lawyer who probed the 1999 apartment bombings that were blamed on Chechen separatists and claimed FSB involvement in the blasts, was re-arrested last month shortly after a Nizhny Tagil court ordered his release on parole (see Chechnya Weekly, September 22). He and his supporters say the charges against him are politically motivated.