Russian general calls for peaceful solution of conflict in Georgia

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 17, 2004

Russian general calls for peaceful solution of conflict in Georgia

By Anatoly Yurkin

MOSCOW, March 17

General Igor Rodionov, a Russian State Duma deputy, told Itar-Tass on
Wednesday that Georgia and Ajaria should solve their conflict
exclusively by peaceful means. Rodionov used to command the troops of
the trans-Caucasian military district in the 1980s. He believes that
Ajaria’s geographic location and multi-ethnic population totally
rules out the use of force as a means to solve disputes in this part
of the trans-Caucasian region.

“The specific features of waging military hostilities in highland and
woodland areas enable a defending side to deter considerable forces
that are on the offensive by conventional means,” Rodionov

“Besides, the Armenians and Azerbaijanians residing in this territory
may exploit the current situation to announce their right to an
autonomy. Bloody events, which may lead to more human casualties than
the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, can repeat,” the general
went on to say.

Asked to comment on the causes of the current conflict between
Tbilisi and Batumi, Rodionov replied that nationalist extremist
forces, which caused the tragic events early in the April of 1989,
were rearing their heads in Georgia again. It was then that slogans
for making Georgia a home only for the Georgians and demands to
liquidate autonomous republics in the Georgian territory appeared for
the first time. “Therefore, the sides should sit down to talks and
try to settle the conflict with Russia’s help,” Rodionov emphasized.

In the meantime, Russian State Duma deputies have also expressed
their concern with the recent developments in the trans-Caucasian
region. The deputies told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that peaceful means
should be found to settle the crisis in relations between Tbilisi and

Lyubov Sliska, the first vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma,
backed up Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s peace mission to Ajaria which
diverts the sides from the armed conflict. “The purpose of his visit
to Ajaria is to promote normal diplomatic settlement of this
conflict,” Sliska stressed.

“Russia is the guarantor of Ajaria’s autonomy under the state
treaties which were signed in Moscow in 1921,” Konstantin Zatulin, a
member of the CIS Committee for the CIS affairs and ties with
compatriots,” said. The Russian State Duma deputies and Moscow Mayor
Yuri Luzhkov who are currently staying in Ajaria have produced
positive results because it delayed the use of force against the
Ajarian autonomy.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia (LDPR), told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that Zhirinovsky had sent
a telegram to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili with a request
to refrain from the use of force against Ajaria and to lift the siege
against the autonomy.