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Cossacks to patrol de facto 'borders'

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, April 7
On March 6 Russian media sources stated that the Ossetian part of the Russian-Georgian state border will be controlled by Cossacks. Itar-Tass reported that Cossack detached groups have already been established at the Border Department of the Russian Federal Security Service. “20-member groups will operate in each district of South Ossetia. These are now studying the main principles of the Border Law of the Russian Federation and how to use arms and other necessary tools,” said the North Ossetian section of the Russian Border Department.

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev signed the federal law on ratification of the agreements on joint control of borders with the Abkhazian and South Ossetian regimes on March 5. The agreements enable the Russian Federation to delegate border protection rights in both Georgian breakaway regions, including control over Abkhazian sea waters. They also said that border guard units would be established at the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which would serve as subdivisions of plenipotentiary bodies of the Russian Federation. These would train border administration specialists for the de facto republics and provide the Russian border administration with all necessary things free of charge.

The agreements between the sides enable Russia to protect the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia until specific border guard units are formed for both regions. The signatories claim that the agreements aren’t at all aimed against a third country but deal with issues of cooperation on border issues, including the fight against terrorism, smuggling arms, bombs and other devices and drugs and psychotropic pills.

Irakli Aladashvili, a military analyst, has discussed the Cossack detached forces with The Messenger in detail. “The information about the setting up of Cossack groups refers to the North Caucasus region of the Border Department of the Russian Federal Security Service. Hiring Cossacks is not a big issue for that region but there are also some rumours that they will be deployed at the Enguri Border, which is embarrassing. No particular danger is attached to those servicemen, but it is quite possible that they will move to the region with their families, thus establishing buffer zones, which is unfortunately unavoidable in the current military situation in the region,” Aladashvili stated.

Also on March 6 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia released a statement opposing the establishment of Russian trade representations in the so-called Abkhazian Republic, calling this a violation of international law and an attempt to destroy Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. “After the adoption of agreements to establish military bases and so-called joint border protection Russia has revealed that it aims to put the occupied territories not only under its military-political control but its economic control too. The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strictly opposes Russia’s destructive activities and demands that it stop its occupation and annexation of the country,” said the statement.

Meanwhile Jaime Bermudez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said during a visit to Moscow yesterday that Colombia isn’t interfering in the issue of recognising Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia. “Colombia is generally very careful with all those people and countries trying to gain independence and sovereignty and we try not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” Bermudez said in answer to a statement made last week by Maksim Gvinjia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia, that Colombia intended to recognise Abkhazia as independent.