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Whose side is the truth on in the information war?2009-01-29 10:26
The information war launched by Tbilisi against Moscow after the August events is being waged as unsuccessfully as the Georgian soldiers' operation to bring South Ossetia back under Georgian jurisdiction. Here is yet more confirmation...
On 26th January the Georgian authorities reported on local television channels that the Russian military is withdrawing Georgian currency from circulation in some regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Parliamentary deputies again started talking of an economic annexation in the "self-proclaimed republics".
"Georgia," indignantly exclaimed the chairman of the commission for territorial integrity Shota Malashkhia on the Georgian radio station Kommersant, "with the support of international organizations, should take measures against Russian banks and companies involved in money laundering." Meaning the 20 Russian banks which are active in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
And he outlined his programme of repressive measures. Firstly, he said that criminal proceedings should be launched against the heads of business structures that are acting illegally, and arrest warrants should be issued against them by Interpol. Secondly, fines should be imposed on them.
At the same time Malashkhia praised the law on the occupied territories adopted by parliament last October. Abkhazia and South Ossetia were declared to be just that. And a special legal framework is being used for them.
In particular, the law makes provisions for a series of legal, economic and political restrictions. This includes against private property. Thus any transaction involved in its buying or selling is invalid. Substantial restrictions have also been made against investing in the conflict regions and on economic cooperation with them.
Admittedly, the Georgian authorities have not yet once managed to impose economic sanctions in the form of fines against those breaking this law (for example, Russian companies which venture to work on the "occupied territories"). As a rule they are content with sending letters to the international community asking for help. And it is no coincidence that Malashkhia talked about the "economic annexation" the day before the PACE winter session opened in Strasbourg on 27th January. There are two reports concerning Georgian-Russian relations on its agenda.
However the aforementioned news release did not succeed in having the effect its authors intended. What is more, it could never have succeeded.
The Georgian authorities, television and radio stations have been emphasizing that the "Russian occupiers" are subjecting the residents of the Gali region and people crossing over the Inguri Bridge to especially strict controls. They have been saying that Russian soldiers are carrying out raids and using the threat of weapons to seize Georgian currency from people.
Although the Gali region is part of Abkhazia, it is regarded as a zone under special control - it is here that Georgians make up the majority of the population, and according to an agreement reached by all sides, Georgian refugees have returned to this region.
But even the National Bank of Georgia has said that it has no information that Georgian national currency has been withdrawn from circulation in Abkhazia.
Radio Kommersant has broadcasted testimonies from residents in the Gali region, who have preferred to remain anonymous. Everyone says the same thing: "Where we live the lari is the most popular currency, even the Abkhazians use it. Nobody has taken laris away from us."