Medvedev: Decision on Abkhazia, S.Ossetia Recognition Irreversible
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Aug.'09 / 22:57

As breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia mark one year anniversary of their recognition by Russia on August 26, President Medvedev said that he had "no regrets about this decision" to recognize these regions.

“I deem [this decision] legitimate – from the point of view of international law – and just, as well as necessary. This is irreversible decision to which we will be adhering,” Medvedev told journalist during his visit to Mongolia.

Also on August 26, breakaway South Ossetia’s leader, Eduard Kokoity, met with Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin, in Moscow.

“We are very happy about strengthening of the South Ossetian state,” Putin said.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Nalbandov, said on August 26, that Moscow’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia was Russia’s “major incorrect” diplomatic step.

Meanwhile, in Tskhinvali, the breakaway region’s authorities marked the anniversary with number of official ceremonies including opening of a Gazprom-financed gas pipeline Dzuarikau-Tskhinvali between the region’s capital and Russia’s North Ossetian Republic, enabling the region to receive gas from Russia bypassing rest of Georgia.

However, according to some Russian news sources the construction of the pipeline is not fully over and finalization of the project was hampered after few days ago the local law enforcement agencies impounded equipment of Stroiprogress, a Russian construction company in charge of the project. The move, according to these reports, was a result of an internal strife between Kokoity and his rival Albert Jussoev, whose construction firm is a local contractor of the project.

But during the joint news conference with Kokoity in Moscow, Putin asked Gazprom chief, Alexei Miller, if the pipeline was ready; Miller called on his cell phone to his deputy, who was in South Ossetia at that time and told him to open the pipeline valve.

Putin said at the news conference after meeting with Kokoity that South Ossetia could now even serve "a transit state" through which Russia could supply gas to Georgia

“This [pipeline] ends [the South Ossetian] Republic’s dependency on Georgia in supply of gas. This gas [supplied to Tskhinvali] via Georgia was also the Russian gas. Now South Ossetia itself, if needed, can serve as a transit country for Georgia,” Putin said.

According to Gazprom it spent 15 billion rubles (about USD 475 million) for construction of the 163-kilometer pipeline. 

The Georgian Foreign Ministry condemned the move and said in a statement that "any activity of Russia and its companies, including the construction of the gas-line and its further exploitation on the territory of Georgia, without Georgia's consent, is a direct infringement on Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the Georgian borders recognized and confirmed by the international community."

Also on August 26 an explosive device went off close to a music school in Tskhinvali center at 12:05pm, the secessionist authorities reported. No one was injured. Few hours later, the breakaway region’s authorities blamed the Georgian side for masterminding the explosion.

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