Russia said on May 10 its Federal Security Service (FSB) found a huge arms cache in breakaway region of Abkhazia, intended for targeting Sochi Winter Olympic Games facilities and claiming that weapons were brought into Abkhazia by Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, “maintaining close links” with the Georgian security services.
Umarov, one of Russia's most wanted men, who has claimed responsibility for the 2011 deadly bombing in a Moscow airport, has declared himself as “Emir of the Caucasus Emirate”; he is also placed on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorists.
The statement about arms caches, carried by the Russian newswires on May 10, was released by National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NAK), which is Russia's government body operating under the FSB and coordinating anti-terrorism policies.
A separate, but similar statement, carried by the Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress with accompanying photos, was released by the breakaway region’s state security service also on May 10.
“Maintaining close links with the Georgian special services, Umarov was coordinating the entire activity over organization of delivery of means for carrying out terrorist acts in an immediate vicinity of Sochi and putting of these [arms] caches in place,” NAK said in its statement.
“The Russian FSB was able to establish, that militants were planning to transfer these weapons to Sochi and to use them for carrying out of terrorist acts within 2012-2014 during preparations for and holding of Olympic Games,” it said.
It also said that finding of the arms caches in Abkhazia on May 4 and on May 5 was a result of an investigation, launched last August, into “Abkhaz Jamaat”, a grouping described as an Abkhaz branch of Umarov-led Caucasus Emirate.
The Abkhaz security service said in its statement, that Rustan Gitsba, described as a leader of the Abkhaz Jamaat was also arrested.
According to the Abkhaz statement arms caches, also involving antiaircraft missile launchers, were found at various locations, mainly in the villages of Duripsh and Bzib of Gudauta district.
The list of seized weapons, according to the Russian and Abkhaz statements, includes 27 Aglen anti-tank rocket launchers; three Strela and Igla shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile launchers and seven antiaircraft rockets; three rocket-propelled grenade launchers; man-portable incendiary rocket launcher Shmel; tripod-mounted recoilless gun SPG-9 Kopyo; an automatic grenade launcher; thirty six 80mm mortar shells; 26 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines of various types; a launcher for anti-tank guided missile with two rockets; an improvised unguided rocket launcher with four unguided rockets; as well as large number of ammunition of various types and 15kg TNT explosive.
The Russian National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NAK) also said that in February, 2012 “a courier of bandits” was arrested in Abkhazia and 300 detonators, used for triggering an explosive device, seized.
“It has been established, that these [detonators] were brought into Abkhazia from Georgia,” it said.
The Abkhaz statement says, that the detonators were sent into Abkhazia from Georgia via Turkey; the only direct route to reach Abkhazia from Turkey is via Black Sea.
Russia’s NAK said, that “Georgian special services and the representatives of illegal armed formations on the territory of Turkey with ties to [the Georgian security services] are directly linked” to planned shipment of found arms into Russia.
The Abkhaz statement says that one of the arms caches was found in the village of Bzib in Gudauta district, where Edgar Chitanava lived. Abkhaz law enforcement agencies reported about Chitanava’s arrest on May 5; he has been charged with an assassination attempt on Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab in July, 2007; at the time Ankvab was Abkhazia’s PM.
Russia's NAK said that large number of seized weapons and ammunition “is a significant blow to terrorist” groups, which “do not give up attempting to thwart holding of the Olympic Games in Sochi and to destabilize situation in the North Caucasus.”