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Russian Envoy Says Moscow Remains Mediator
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 May.'08 / 18:20

Vyacheslav Kovalenko, the Russian ambassador to Georgia, said on May 1 that Russia was not a side, but a mediator, in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.

Kovalenko was speaking with journalists after visiting the Georgian Foreign Ministry, where he had been summoned to receive a protest note over Moscow’s decision to increase the number of peacekeepers in Abkhazia.

“According to the August 22, 1994 agreement, the Russian side – not the Russian side, but the peacekeepers - have the right to stay in the security zone at a strength of 2,500-3,000,” Kovalenko said. “The increase in the strength of Russian troops is within the limits set by the agreement, which was signed by the heads of state, including the Georgian head of state.”

Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said on May 1 that Russia’s move had increased the threat of a further escalation in tension. “We have warned them that the Russian Federation will ultimately have to assume full responsibility for this act of aggression,” he said.

Lado Gurgenidze, the Georgian Prime Minister, said on May 1, that Russia’s “unilateral act” was “illegal” which violated Georgia’s sovereignty.

“We deem increase of number of peacekeepers, that has happened without prior agreement with us, as very irresponsible act, which triggers – we should say it bluntly - destabilization in the region. We, along with our international partners, will spare no efforts to stop this process,” PM Gurgenidze said.

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