Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 26

All Roads Lead to the Pankisi [Gorge]” a headline in the September 9 issue of Vremya Novostei read. Russian law enforcement officials were claiming that those responsible for the terror bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in September of 1999, which took some 350 lives, were now ensconced in the Pankisi Gorge region of northern Georgia. On September 13, a deputy prosecutor general of Russia, Sergei Fridinsky, affirmed that “some 300-400 people may be stationed in the terrorist training camps in the Pankisi Gorge” (, September 13). On the previous day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that, over the next few days, he would present President Vladimir Putin with proposals “for possible blows to be aimed at terrorist bases on the territory of Georgia in the Pankisi Gorge” (, September 12). On September 15, U.S. President George W. Bush had appealed to the Russian leadership with a request that they give the Georgian authorities a chance to deal with Arab and Chechen separatist fighters located in the Pankisi Gorge independently. “I call upon the Russian president, in cooperation with us, to allow the Georgian troops to carry out their task,” Bush said (, citing a report by the BBC, September 15).