Thursday, August 21, 2008

Georgian military servicemen taken hostage at the Poti seaport

On August 19, 2008, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General A. Nogovitsyn stated that the Russian peacekeepers had apprehended and disarmed twenty heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries, who were driving Hummer type five military vehicles (HAMVEE).

The above statement is slanderous and does not adequately reflect the real state of affairs.

In accordance with the ceasefire agreement, Georgian troops are returning to the places of their previous deployment. In particular, on 19 August, at 01:00, a small Georgian unit including 20 servicemen equipped with light weaponry was deployed at a small-sized military base next to one of the private terminals of the Poti Port.

On August 19, at 08:30 am, a column of Russian heavy military vehicles once again invaded the Poti seaport, which is a private-owned facility, and the Russian military unit took hostage the Georgian soldiers deployed there.

During withdrawal from the facility, Russian soldiers took with them five Hummer type military vehicles, which belong to the Armed Forces of the United States and were prepared for transportation to the United States. The above vehicles were brought to Georgia back in July, as US side needed them for participation in the international training "Immediate Response-2008”.

When moving out from the seaport territory, the Russian militaries blindfolded and placed several Georgian military servicemen on the Russian military vehicles to use them as "live shields”.

Thus, the General Nogovitsyn’s statement, according to which the heavily armed Georgian paramilitaries were allegedly imprisoned on August 18, by the Russian military servicemen deployed at the Russian peacekeeping check-point, is absolutely false and misleading.

It should be stressed as well that the Poti seaport is located far beyond the area envisaged in the ceasefire agreement brokered by the President of France; as a matter of fact, the above facility is situated approximately 30 kilometers away from the administrative border of Abkhazian region and 160 kilometers away from the administrative border of so-called South Ossetia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia strongly demands the Russian side to immediately release the illegally imprisoned Georgian military servicemen.