Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 217

In an address on national radio, Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze accused Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin of "breaking all rules" and "providing aid and comfort to the separatists" through his recent order, which authorized direct deliveries of Abkhaz fruit and other produce to Russia and instructed Russian border troops and other authorities to facilitate such deliveries. "Such is Chernomyrdin’s attitude toward the CIS and its decisions. This is how Russia’s prime minister contributes to CIS prestige," Shevardnadze sarcastically continued, citing CIS summit resolutions which specifically banned such transactions with Abkhazia. The expulsion of Georgians from Abkhazia "has aroused no compassion or empathy in Chernomyrdin," Shevardnadze commented. He noted that Moscow invoked "free trade" to assist Abkhazia, but at the same time, refuses to establish free trade with Georgia. (Radio Tbilisi, November 17) Georgia’s state minister (equivalent of prime minister), Niko Lekishvili, and the Foreign Ministry have also protested against Chernomyrdin’s order. (See Monitor, November 12, 17)

In Moscow, Chernomyrdin’s spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov defensively stated that "the government’s decision does not contravene any understandings between Presidents Yeltsin and Shevardnadze, and it has actually been agreed upon with the Russian President." (Russian agencies, November 17). However, Boris Yeltsin has personally assured Shevardnadze time and again that Russia would not trade with "separatist" Abkhazia behind Tbilisi’s back. At the October 23-24 CIS summit in Chisinau, Yeltsin publicly agreed that Russia would not allow Abkhaz goods to be delivered to Russia without Tbilisi’s consent, and not until the expelled Georgians are repatriated to Abkhazia’s Gali district. At the January 1996 CIS summit in Moscow, Yeltsin signed the resolution banning trade, financial, transport and other types of transactions with Abkhazia. CIS summits have also adopted resolutions banning economic and political contacts with "separatist" regimes, including the one in Abkhazia. (Russian agencies, November 18)

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