Caucasus Militants Freeze All Georgia

CAUCASUS MILITANTS FREEZE ALL GEORGIA

Kommersant, Russia
Aug. 7, 2006

Yesterday’s explosions knocked out two branches of Mozdok-Tbilisi
gas pipeline in North Ossetia and power transmission towers in
Karachayevo-Cherkesia. As a result, Georgia and Armenia have been
left with no gas of Russia and Georgia faces material decline in
supplied power. In the wake of explosions, Georgia’s President Mikhail
Saakashvili lashed out at Russia, blaming it for having engineered the
energy crisis in his country. Armenia has not attacked yet on hopes,
perhaps, that President Robert Kocharyan will be able to find a way
out in Moscow, where he rushed Sunday.

The main gas pipeline that exports Russia’s gas to Georgia and onward
to Armenia was knocked out by two explosions near the mountain village
of Nizhny Lars, some 30 kilometers to the south of Vladikavkaz. The
first explosion happened at 2:52 a.m.; the second one followed in
20 minutes.

After a while, gas operators registered the sudden drop in pressure
and closed gas control valves. Emergency officers arrived in no time.

The check showed the pipes were blown up by two homemade bombs with
explosion yield of between 700 grams and 800 grams in TNT equivalent.

According to the experts, it will take at least two days to repair
North Caucasus-Transcaucasia gas pipeline provided the work is carried
out in emergency mode.

Power transmission towers in Karachayevo-Cherkesia exploded yesterday
midday, close to town of Karachayev, having hit the high-voltage line
that transmits up to 500 MW to Georgia. Investigators spotted bombs
with explosion force of 6 kilograms of TNT.

Currently Russia delivers to Georgia 100 MW via Salkhino high-voltage
line, Abkhazia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili didn’t waste time, actually
blaming Russia for cutting gas supplies to his country and triggering
an energy crisis there.

Meanwhile, all heating power plants stopped in Georgia and the country
is short of around 500 MW, i.e. a third of required volume.

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