(UPDATE: the text adds remarks by Irakli Alasania in last four paragraphs)
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, accused Georgia of illegal armed formation close to the administrative border with breakaway Abkhazia.
Referring to allegations voiced by Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, part of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition, Karasin told RIA Novosti news agency, that creation of militia groups was “also confirmed” by Georgian opposition politicians.
“Recent months have been characterized with escalation in the area of Georgian-Abkhaz border, where provocations are being continued by the Georgian special services. Seven people have already been killed since January. Some kind of armed formations have emerged. It is also confirmed by Georgian opposition politicians,” Karasin told RIA Novosti news agency on March 29 after nineteenth round of Geneva talks in which he is Russia’s chief negotiator.
Karasin’s comments in which he was citing the Georgian opposition politician were seized on by officials from the Georgian government.
“Karasin’s statements, like the one by Mr. Alasania – which are identical – are utterly absurd and groundless and we have already stated about it… We consider these [allegations] as an attempt to destabilize situation,” Batu Kutelia, deputy secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, told journalists on March 30.
“This is not the first case when statements by [figures from] Bidzina Ivanishvili’s team are in unison with those made by Russia. It once again confirms how irresponsible allegations leveled by Alasania were and how his allegations coincide with the interests of our enemy,” ruling party MP Akaki Minashvili told Maestro TV.
Eka Tkeshelashvili, Georgia’s state minister for reintegration, told Rustavi 2 TV that “it is regrettable” when a Georgian politician was giving reason to Russia to level groundless allegations against Georgia.
Seizing upon allegations voiced by Alasania, authorities in breakaway Abkhazia also accused Tbilisi on March 23 of setting up paramilitary groups, saying that it was continuation of the Georgian leadership’ “policy of terror and intimidation.”
Speaking with Maestro TV later on March 30, Alasania said attempts by the authorities to link his allegations to Russia’s long-standing efforts to portray Georgia as source of destabilization was “dishonesty.”
“The information which I was talking about has nothing to do with any activeness on the occupied territories. Those [paramilitary] groups, which I talked about, are directed against opposition-minded citizens,” he said.
Alasania also said that he deliberately refused to make details of his allegations about illegal armed groups public in order not to allow “ill-wishers” to capitalize on it and instead sent the details to the National Security Council of Georgia for reaction. But instead of reacting, Alasania continued, “Bokeria’s agency” made it public. Alasania was referring to Giga Bokeria, who is secretary of National Security Council, which released files received by Alasania, saying that it contained no valuable information.
Alasania also claimed, that his decision to publicly voice allegations about the illegal armed groups was of a pre-emptive nature, which had yielded result and now, he said, the authorities started to bring these groups into “legal space” by linking them to voluntary reserve troops system under the Ministry of Defense.