President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday told the country on radio that Russian border forces are using "absolutely incompatible double standards" by shooting at Turkish fishing boats in Georgian waters while allowing cargo ships to ply regular trade with Abkhazia. "Russian border forces totally ignore elementary norms of interstate relations," Shevardnadze concluded. He also warned that the continuation of the Russian "peacekeeping" troops’ presence in Abkhazia "would lose any sense" if their mandate is not changed in accordance with Georgian proposals due to be officially presented later this month. Also yesterday, the command of Russian troops in Abkhazia joined the Abkhaz secessionist authorities in accusing Tbilisi of having sent an armor and infantry unit into the Georgian-administered side of the disengagement zone. Tbilisi denied the charges. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, March 17). The new Russian commander, Maj. Gen. Dolya Babenkov, has tended to back the Abkhaz side even more openly than his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Vasily Yakushev, whose partiality had irked Tbilisi.
Turkmenistan Distances Itself from Moscow in Talks with NATO Leader.