Major General Valery Chkheidze, commander of Georgia’s border troops, made public yesterday key parts of Tbilisi’s plan to take over the control of national borders from Russian troops. The plan would entrust the protection of certain border sectors to specially formed units comprised of local residents. This approach will also be tried in areas inhabited by ethnic or religious minorities.
Chkheidze specifically mentioned Abkhazia and Ajaria as areas where Tbilisi would authorize the formation of local border guard units, to be comprised “almost 100 percent of local residents.” Tbilisi proposes to supply them with arms, uniforms, vehicles and communications equipment; and to pay the guards’ salaries on the basis of contracts. These units would be subordinate to the border troops’ command in Tbilisi. Ckheidze ruled out as “absurd” the creation of border guard units that would “belong to” the regions. He indicated that Tbilisi has initiated discussions with Abkhazia and seeks such discussions with Ajaria on this plan.
President Eduard Shevardnadze had alluded to this plan in his July 20 broadcast to the country. On the same day, Ajaria’s leader Aslan Abashidze ruled out the deployment of Georgian border troops in his fief and announced that Ajaria would use local forces to guard that border sector. Russian forces began on July 16 a phased transfer of control over Georgia’s borders to Georgian troops. The maritime border on the Black Sea coast is the scene of the first test of this process. Thus far, Abkhazia threatens to shoot Georgian coastal guard boats; and Ajaria on July 20 successfully demanded the withdrawal of four Georgian cutters which had tried to approach Batumi. (Russian agencies, July 21; see also the Monitor, July 21)
NAZARBAEV’S SON, AKAEV’S DAUGHTER ARE MARRIED.