Tbilisi’s plan to set up a temporary administrative unit in the part of breakaway South Ossetia which it controls may “shatter an already fragile situation”, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned in a statement issued on March 29.
It said that there are only two “internationally recognized” parties in the negotiating process and attempts “to plant new ones are, without any exaggeration, tantamount to a crime.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry described Dimitri Sanakoev, the pro-Tbilisi, alternative South Ossetian leader, as the head of a “puppet government.”
Below is an unofficial translation of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia is watching with alarm the increasing propaganda activities of Tbilisi in relation to the so-called movement of Dimitri Sanakoev. Its goal is quite obvious: the creation in the eyes of non-informed local and outside observers of the illusion of respectability for this group [Sanakoev’s movement], which has been created by operatives of the Georgian special services and planted in the Georgian enclave of the South Ossetia.
The latest development in this saga is the Georgian President's announcement of plans to set up an administrative unit under Tbilisi control (which will apparently be led by Dimitri Sanakoev) in the vicinity of Tskhinvali. Later, this organisation will be called a legitimate partner in the Georgian-Ossetian settlement process at the expense of the real authorities in South Ossetia.
The ‘Rebel regime of Tskhinvali’ – as it is described by the Georgian political elite – is of course not the most comfortable partner in the negotiating process for Tbilisi. Relations with its own proteges are easier – they are programmed to sing the same tune alongside their creators. But this kind of initiative will result not in dialogue, but instead in a monologue wherein [the Georgian side] is merely talking to itself. Alarming questions thus emerge: what is expected to happen in the future? How is Georgia going to deal with its opponents?
It is easy to make assumptions. Tbilisi can hardly expect that the South Ossetian leadership will stand aside in defining the future of its own people and let others, who represent the interests of neither Ossetians nor Georgians but those of their patrons, to assume this responsibility. In this situation there is a high probability that someone may be tempted to forcefully oust the “rebel” authorities from Tskhinvali, as they refuse to leave [Tskhinvali] voluntarily. There is no need to speculate on the consequences.
Moscow believes that these kinds of experiments, which shatter the already fragile situation in the conflict zone, are categorically unacceptable.
There are only two parties in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, which are recognized by the international community and any attempt to plant new ones are, without any exaggeration, tantamount to a crime.
The Russian side calls on the Georgian leadership to abandon these very short-sighted plans and take a constructive position in respect to the Georgian-Ossetian negotiation process. The results of the JCC Istanbul session, in relation to holding a plenary JCC session in Tbilisi, sugggested certain optimism. We hope that a full-scale negotiating process in this format will be continued without attempts at planting other [parties in the negotiating process].”