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A long-range provocation2009-03-03 09:49
On an early Friday morning Georgian media started trumpeting about "the incident in Otobaya village of Abkhazia": allegedly the night before 50 Georgian families were evicted from there. This is the way the Abkhazian authorities took revenge for a draft-age Georgian who refused to serve in the army. Tbilisi made use of its entire propaganda arsenal to accuse Abkhazia and Russia of all mortal sins.
What happened in Otobaya village of Galsky district is now under investigation by the UN mission according to GHN agency (Georgia). Rustavi-2 TV in its turn reported that the refugees from Otobaya had been called on by the EU mission representatives who for some reason withheld their official comments.
Before that - with reference to the Georgian media - Rosbalt gave an account of a frightful story: Georgian women, children and old people were evicted from Otobaya village. They ran to the forests. Some of them crossed the border and are staying with their relatives in Ganmukhuri village of Georgia. They are kept from coming back home by backfire from the village where allegedly militaries with heavy combat equipment are concentrated. Men were taken hostage by the Abkhazians. And all this mess is due to the 24-year-old Georgian Irakli Bigvava's rejection to serve in the Abkhazian army. Georgian Interior Ministry asserts that the fellow was severely beaten, injured but he managed to reach the Georgian border and cross it.
Lawrence Kogonia, Galsky District Police Chief, presents an absolutely different version of the event. On February 24 he told Kavkazsky Uzel about a failed kidnapping attempt on Irakli Bigvava by a Georgian raiding group. "When the criminals saw the policemen they wounded Bigvava in the leg and abandoning him went to the cross-border territory", - Kogonia said. That same day wounded Irakli Kogonia was taken to Galsky district hospital.
Tbilisi decided on a breakthrough in the information war that alas does not have a day's break. In the background of Otobaya incident as Tbilisi asserts is the "ethnic cleansing" campaign that is allegedly carried out by Abkhazia patronized by Russia. "The big guns" were put in action: Georgia's State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili expressed his concern that the "Georgian population in the Russian occupied territories is in a very difficult situation going through constant assaults and human rights violations". In his turn Georgia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Nalbandov according to GeorgiaTimes observer stated that the events in Otobaya aggravated quite a tense situation in "Russian occupied territories". He promised the Georgian side would take all possible measures and with the help of the world community would seek to ease tensions in the region.
The Abkhazian authorities are resentful about Georgian media's fabrications and contradict reports on eviction of civilians. Lavrenty Mikvabia, the coordinator of power structures in Galksy district stated to Interfax: "This is another portion of lies disseminated by the Georgian structures and media for the purpose of provocation". According to him there is no Russian military equipment entering Galsky district. "Presently there is rotation underway and instead of some units that depart from Galsky district near the Georgian border other units arrive", - Mikvabia stated. Ruslan Kishmaria, a representative of Galsky district administration replied to Reuters observer about the "incident in Otobaya" quite simply: "It's nonsense. Nothing of the kind happened there".
Even a casual observer might find accusations of "ethnic cleansing" in this district quite strange. As it is only there that Georgians and Abkhazians have good-neighborly relations that arouse Tbilisi's annoyance.