Georgia’s request that police powers be conferred on Russian "peacekeeping" forces in Abkhazia was rejected twice in the space of two days: on April 1 in Tbilisi by Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev and a delegation of top brass from the Russian Defense Ministry, and on April 2 in Moscow by Russian and other participants of a session of the CIS Foreign Ministers’ Council. The argument invoked in both cases was that any change in the mandate of peacekeeping troops requires negotiations with Abkhazia itself and ratification by CIS bodies, and that any exercise of police powers by those troops requires a UN Security Council resolution. These arguments were also invoked at the March 27 session of the CIS Defense Ministers’ Council when it rejected Georgia’s request. (Interfax, April 1 and 2) Georgia had campaigned for the mandate change in order to secure the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia.
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