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Tbilisi Denies Deploying Troops in Abkhaz Conflict Zone
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Apr.'08 / 15:16

Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, has strongly denied Abkhaz allegation that Tbilisi had deployed troops in Zugdidi district (on the Georgian side of the Abkhaz administrative border) and in Tbilisi-controlled upper Kodori Gorge.

The Abkhaz side claimed earlier that Georgia had deployed up to 2,500 soldiers in Zugdidi district and 800 in upper Kodori Gorge. Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh warned on April 17 that the Abkhaz side would move its troops to the Gali district (on the Abkhaz side of the administrative border), if the Georgian troops were not withdrawn from Zugdidi by Friday evening, April 18.

Speaking at a news conference on April 18, Iakobashvili said that the Abkhaz side had tried to provoke the Georgian side to engage in an armed conflict.

Meanwhile, Davit Bakradze, the Georgian foreign minister, said on April 18 that the deployment of Abkhaz troops in the Gali district would endanger the security of the local population in the ethnic Georgian populated district.

“With the direct and open support of Russia, the separatist regime dares to threaten the peaceful population of the Gali district and the Upper Kodori Gorge,” Bakradze told reporters. “Georgia will do its best to prevent any provocations and fueling of tension, but I want to announce with full responsibility that we will not allow the creation of any danger to our peaceful population and I advise everyone to take it into consideration.”

“Not a single unit of the Georgian armed forces is located either in Kodori Gorge, or in the Abkhaz vicinity. They are [units] on pre-planned drills, which were planned month or month and a half ago,” Davit Kezerashvili, the Georgian defense minister, told reporters on April 18.

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