In a May 29 statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called on Abkhazia to allow the return of the “more than 30,000” Georgians displaced during the recent fighting in Gali district. Reacting to Abkhazia’s imposition of a “state of emergency” and other restrictions in Gali (see the Monitor, May 28), the statement described the measures as “clearly aimed at impeding the refugees’ return” and called for their lifting “as a prerequisite to normalizing the situation.”
On the same day, however, First Deputy Minister Boris Pastukhov reaffirmed that “Russia categorically opposes any peace enforcement operation in Abkhazia” because “it would inevitably lead to violence.” The senior diplomat described as “dirty lies” the reports that the Abkhaz had used armor and artillery in the recent combat operation against Georgians. Pastukhov imputed such assertions to unnamed “destabilizers.” (Russian agencies, May 29 and 30) Abkhaz use of that hardware was, however, documented during the recent fighting.
In the aftermath of the new ethnic purge in Gali, Moscow has little choice but to disavow it orally. In practice, however, Russian insistence on preserving the existing format of the “peacekeeping” operation can only perpetuate the status quo to Georgia’s detriment. This is also the aim implied in yesterday’s parallel calls by Moscow and Abkhazia for a Russian-mediated meeting between Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba to “normalize the situation.” (Russian agencies, May 31) The “normalization” does not imply a solution to the conflict, but a return to the precarious status quo which has made Moscow the arbiter of the conflict. Shevardnadze conditions such a meeting on Abkhaz compliance with the terms of the May 25 ceasefire. Moscow bows to the document, but does not appear to insist on compliance in practice.
TAJIK GOVERNMENT URGED TO RESCIND ANTI-OPPOSITION MEASURES.