07TBILISI2392, GEORGIAN AND ABKHAZ FORCES CLASH NEAR KODORI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2392 2007-09-21 10:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4198
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2392 2641045
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211045Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7694
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4586

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002392 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN AND ABKHAZ FORCES CLASH NEAR KODORI 
 
 
Classified By: CDA Mark X. Perry, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) On the evening of Thursday, September 20, Georgian 
media reported a clash between Georgian and Abkhaz forces 
near the Georgian-controlled upper Kodori gorge.  Georgian 
Minister of Interior Vano Merabishvili held a press 
conference on Thursday evening to inform the public about it. 
 He said that two days ago, road workers building a road that 
will link the Kodori Gorge with the rest of Georgia (passing 
entirely through Georgian-controlled territory) noticed about 
25 men moving around near the construction site.  Georgian 
special forces were sent in to investigate, were fired upon, 
and returned fire.  The Georgians allege the Abkhaz 
contingent was trying to sabotage the road and prevent access 
to the Kodori Gorge from Georgia.  Merabishvili reported that 
Georgian special forces had killed two of the intruders 
(including the leader, who was identified as an ethnic 
Russian), injured one, and captured six.  On September 21, 
Charge was told privately by Shota Utiashvili, Deputy 
Minister of Internal Affairs, that besides the two killed, 
seven were captured and six escaped out of a total of fifteen 
in the Abkhaz unit.  The group was identified by the 
Georgians as being attached to the Abkhaz "anti-terrorist 
center".  The seven detainees are being held in Zugdidi for 
questioning.  Although they were intially thought to be of 
different ethnicities, they have all been determined to be 
Abkhaz.  They were in military uniforms but did not carry 
identity documents, according to Georgian reports. 
Utiashvili said the captured men told the Georgians that they 
were based in Sokhumi.  A few days ago, they said, a Russian 
officer whom they had never seen before arrived to take 
command of their unit.  He made the men remove their ID's and 
leave them behind.  He then led them into the mountains 
without telling them their mission.  Post will report more 
details as they become available. 
 
2.  (C) The incident follows a series of military exercises 
by the Abkhaz in the region near Kodori.  Georgian State 
Minister for Conflict Settlement Davit Bakradze linked the 
attack to aggressive rhetoric from Abkhaz de facto president 
Sergei Bagapsh about reserving the right to take control of 
the area by force.  Kodori is part of Abkhazia but has always 
been under the control of the Georgians before and after the 
1992-93 war.  Bakradze told a press conference that "We 
intend to resolve the conflict peacefully and politically, 
but we will not let any act of provocation go unanswered 
which poses a threat to our people's security and peace." 
 
3.  (C) Bagapsh held a press conference of his own on 
Thursday after returning to Sokhumi from an investment 
conference in the Russian town of Sochi.  He declared that 
the incident involved an attack by Georgian special forces on 
a group of Abkhaz conscripts at a training camp in the Abkhaz 
district of Tkvarcheli.  An Abkhaz press statement places the 
camp "at least 10 km from the road".  Bagapsh said he has 
convened an emergency session of the Abkhaz security council. 
 According to press reports, the Abkhaz are readying 
reinforcements and heavy armor to be sent to the camp if 
needed. 
 
4.  (C) UNOMIG plans to send a patrol to investigate the site 
of the skirmish on September 22.  The patrol will include 
representatives from the CIS peacekeeping force, the Abkhaz 
and the Georgian sides.  Neither the UN nor the PKF has made 
any public statement at this point.  However, UNOMIG chief 
Jean Arnault told Charge on September 21 that UNOMIG hopes to 
examine the bodies of the two men killed in the skirmish and 
to interview members of the Abkhaz unit who escaped.  Arnault 
said that the Abkhaz deny that a firefight took place, and 
claim that the Georgians captured the Abkhaz soldiers 
bloodlessly and then executed two of them.  The Georgians say 
there was a skirmish followed by hot pursuit of the Abkhaz 
unit.  Arnault thinks the UNOMIG investigation will be able 
to determine what actually happened. 
PERRY

Wikileaks

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