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Darchiashvili cuts short rumors about the Mamisonski mountain pass26.06.2009 | 17:16
The Georgian society was disturbed by the news about the border guards having retreated several kilometers from Russia and South Ossetia near the Mamisonski mountain pass. They have blown up the bridge behind them. The opposition immediately got armed with this fact. The situation was cleared up by the Georgian parliamentarian David Darchiashvili: these maneuvers were necessary to provide national defense.
The news about blowing-up the Nikolaevski bridge on the River of Chanchakhi (the Rioni tributary) has brought about a real storm in the Georgian media. The versions of the accident were different: from a subversive action made by the Ossetian force and Russian border guards to giving a 20-kilometer mountain section in exchange for the criminal authority Tariel Oninai detained in Moscow.
After the bridge was blown on June, 10, the Georgian border guards moved their outpost westwards, to Shovi resort, leaving a piece of rock massif unprotected. There, the Georgian-Russian border joints the border between Georgia and South Ossetia. Thus, about 70 square kilometers of land near the Mamisonski mountain pass (from the valley of the Chanchakhi River flowing into the Rioni, to the valley of the Mamisondon River, the tributary of Ardon) became available both to the Russians and the Ossetians. A XIX-century old narrow military Ossetian road is running through this region. Right now, there is no traffic there but the local people use the road to run cattle to the pastures, as Civil.ge reports.
The Nikolaevski bridge had been located near the village of Gurshevi, about eight kilometers of Mamisonski mountain pass. Before the collapse of Georgia, both the village and the mountain pass were part of the South-Ossetian autonomous region. When South Ossetia proclaimed independence, it did not take this region under control. Thus, this strip of land, together with other villages of the South-Western slope of the ridge lapsed to the Onski region of Georgia.
The Georgian border guards patrolled the region seasonally, abandoning it from late autumn to spring, for in winter the passes through the Caucasian ridge are impassable because of the snow. Nevertheless, the permanent post located at the place of the former weather station near the Mamisonski mountain pass remained there. And now, according to the local residents, the Georgians have left it.
The opposition immediately accused the president of the country of having secretly given up these territories in favour of the neighbouring state. Leader of The New Rights David Gamkrelidze was the first to announce this fact. Just like other supporters of Saakashvili's resignation, he suspects him of maintaining secret connections with the Kremlin. Gamkrelidze's associate, David Saganelidze, supposed that either keeping border guards at the mountain cross is too costly for the state, or it was Moscow who asked the Georgians to move a little so that the Russians could run a road from North Ossetia to South Ossetia similar to the Rokski tunnel.
It was Paata Davitaya, Head of the Parliament Committee for the August War Study, who arrived at the place to investigate the fact of the bridge demolition. The delegate of the parliament minority confirmed that the bridge did not fall because of age, as had been first stated by the authorities including MIA, but that it fell as a result of a purposeful explosion.
He also said that during the march to the last Georgian outpost together with the border guards, the opposite side was unquiet. "We have just left the outpost when there was a heavy explosion. The border guards are currently trying to find out what has happened", - he told the Georgian media. According to him, the Russian and the Ossetian military forces are located at the Mamisonski mountain pass, opening fire at the Georgian territory from time to time. Allegedly, one of the border outposts was burnt down because of the firing.
Davitaya has underlined that the Georgian border guards keep patrolling the whole perimeter of the border. This fact was later confirmed by the Georgian parliamentary minority representative Pavle Kublashvili. Incredible as it may seem, he promised that in the nearest future the Nikolaevski bridge... will be reconstructed (!). The delegate did not specify the purpose of blowing it up.
The Georgian MIA and MFA also denied the fact of shifting the border line. "The border has not been shifted; if such thing ever happens Georgia will surely use all possible means to cut it short", - Director of the International Organizations Department Sergi Kapanadze assured.