Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 142

The mandate of Russian "peacekeeping" forces in Abkhazia expired July 19 as Tbilisi withheld consent to its renewal. On the same day Georgia’s Security Council, chaired by President Eduard Shevardnadze, formulated the following conditions for renewal of the mandate: deploying the troops throughout Abkhazia, not just in the security zone; creating additional troop stations to secure the repatriation of Georgian refugees; using the troops also for securing freedom of movement to UN observers in Abkhazia; and dismantling Abkhaz fortifications. The Security Council decided to raise these issues in the impending round of talks in Moscow on Abkhaz settlement and also at the CIS summit due next month.

Meanwhile in Tbilisi and the western Georgian city Zugdidi near Abkhazia, Georgian refugees held rallies demanding the removal of Russian troops unless their mandate is changed as proposed. Pointing out that the Russian troops were in fact creating an Abkhaz border, participants in the rallies faulted the Georgian leadership for gambling on Russian goodwill instead of redoubling efforts to internationalize the issue. (Interfax, July 19)

Tbilisi has warned several times this year that it may withhold consent to renewing the troops’ mandate in its original form. Moscow and the Abkhaz have rejected the conditions, and Tbilisi has compromised each time by consenting to brief extensions of the mandate. This time, however, the conditions are more specific than previously, and the Russian troops have now been left to operate in a legal vacuum.

Tajikistan Ceasefire Signed.