Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on April 16 that “struggle” continues within the Georgian society between those who try “to normalize” ties with Moscow and forces, which pursue ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s course of “fueling hostilities.”
The statement was released in connection to detention of a Georgian TV crew at the breakaway South Ossetian administrative boundary line on April 15.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the TV crew of three persons “demonstratively” crossed into “the South Ossetian territory”, which it said, was a “provocation” to mar “atmosphere” of a planned meeting between Russian and Georgian diplomats in Prague on April 16.
“It is hard to consider it otherwise than a pre-planned action with a purpose to complicate atmosphere of a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister [Grigory] Karasin and Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative [Zurab] Abashidze in Prague,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“It is noteworthy that it is not the first time when such a provocation is being organized precisely on the eve of the Prague meeting. This, like recently reported fictions about ‘violation of the Georgian airspace by the Russian aircraft’, demonstrates that struggle continues within the Georgian society between the forces, which try to normalize relations with Russia, and those, who share the course of fueling hostilities, which was pursued by Saakashvili’s regime,” it said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the TV crew was detained by the Russian border guards and then handed over to the authorities of the breakaway region.
Tbilisi-based TV3’s reporter Bela Zakaidze, cameraman Vakhtang Lekiashvili and a broadcast technician Mikheil Mikhoev remain held in Tskhinvali.
Zurab Abashidze, the Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Moscow, told Georgian journalists in Prague ahead of his meeting with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on April 16, that detention of the Georgian TV crew would be the first issue he’s going to raise during the meeting.
He also said that there are number of other urgent “humanitarian issues” that require a prompt resolution. Abashidze said that one of such issues is related to placing of a boundary marker close to the village of Adzvi, which cut farmlands of local Georgian population; an Orthodox church close to the village also falls beyond the newly placed boundary marker making it impossible for locals to visit the site – especially important for locals ahead of the Easter holidays. Senior Georgian Orthodox clerics have called on Abashidze to raise this issue during his meeting with Karasin.
Abashidze also said that the meeting, which is the sixth one in frames of this informal dialogue between the two diplomats launched in December, 2012, is significant, because “it is very important to know how Russia views future of the Georgian-Russian relations.”
PM Irakli Garibashvili said that he’s “very concerned” about detention of the Georgian TV crew.
“The Georgian Interior Ministry is actively involved in resolving this problem and I hope that our journalists will be released very soon,” PM Garibashvili told journalists in Tbilisi on April 16.
“Such cases damage this process of normalization of relations with Russia, but I hope that this problem will be resolved very soon,” he added.