Monday, January 19, 2009

PACE Delegation Visits Moscow over Georgia

The presence of Georgian troops in the areas adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia trigger frequent cross-border shooting incidents, Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the Russia's State Duma told visiting group of lawmakers from the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) in Moscow on January 18.

The Presidential Committee of PACE, led by its President, LluĂ­s Maria de Puig, is visiting Moscow as part of the follow-up to the Assembly's October, 2008 resolution on the consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia. The delegation, which is watching into implementation of the resolution, visited Tbilisi in late October. The Assembly is due to debate a new report on the matter on January 28 during its winter plenary session in Strasbourg
The Russia's State Duma press office reported that during the meeting Boris Gryzlov said "shooting incidents across the borders are provoked by the Georgian side."

The Georgian police forces moved into the areas adjacent to the breakaway regions after the Russian troops withdrew from those territories in October, 2008. A total of eleven Georgian policemen have been killed in those areas as a result of shooting incidents after the August war; the most recent fatal incident took place at the South Ossetian administrative border on January 16.

The Speaker of Russia's State Duma also complained to the PACE delegation about, what Moscow calls, "cutting of gas supplies to South Ossetia by the Georgian side." Tbilisi says that gas supply has been suspended after the pipeline was damaged in the August war.
Boris Gryzlov also raised the issue of, as he put it, "blocking of Russian TV channels and the Russian websites by Georgia."

"I believe that this is not in line with the principle of free dissemination of information and democratic standard of freedom of speech," Gryzlov added.

While Georgia has fully unblocked websites on the .ru domain in October, Russian television stations, which carry news, still remain blocked. The Russian stations affected, however, are still available on satellite, but most viewers had accessed them through cable.

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