Georgians Plotting Terrorist Attacks against Russia, Moscow Officials Say
by Paul Goble

On-going series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan

Window on Eurasia: Original Blog Article

Vienna, October 17 - The Georgian security services are plotting to launch terrorist attacks in Moscow and other Russian cities, Russian officials say, an assertion that Georgians deny and say is intended to cover a false flag operation in which the FSB as in 1999 will carry out such actions to whip up support for new moves against Tbilisi.

On Wednesday, "Izvestiya" reported that Russian interior ministry officials had given the paper copies of telegrams showing that "in Russia there is again the danger of terrorist acts" but this time not from "Islamist militants but from "radical patriotic groups of Georgians" acting as agents of the Georgian security services.

It hastened to add that the press office of the interior ministry center in Moscow would not comment on "where there is a threat of Georgian terrorism." The paper said that this was "understandable: the militia officers do not want to sow panic among the population." But if the interior ministry did not want to do so at least on the record, "Izvestiya" clearly did.

"We had believed that we had left behind forever explosions in trolley buses, on the metro and in concert halls and the seizure of theaters and planes," the paper said. "Can it really be that these things will be repeated?" And it said that "the mysterious Georgian 'patriots' are the special services" of Tbilisi.

Moreover, in language that will do nothing to calm Russian fears, the paper said that the documents suggested that the Georgians would try to carry out a terrorist action before the end of October and that the militia are "regularly" watching basements and underpasses for bombs and suspicious people.

"All means to ward off terrorist actions are being taken," sources in one of the militia offices in the Russian capital told the paper. Russians should feel confident that the authorities have things in this dangerous situation well in hand. After all, the paper said, "we have a great deal of experience in this area."

Ethnic Georgians living in the Russian Federation were the first to express their concern about what this article will do in the already overheated environment. Vladimir Khomeriki, head of the Unity of the Russian and Georgian Peoples Foundation, said that articles like this one "sow antagonism between our peoples."

He and his colleagues issued a press release saying that such materials in the media will exacerbate interethnic tensions and the growth of xenophobia in Russia, developments that they said were very dangerous for our multi-national country," especially because they are unconfirmed and ignore an important part of reality.

Many Georgians both "before and after the August events did not support the policies of [President Mikhail] Saakashvili which were directed against Russia and the path [he outlined and pursued] of the military resolution of the territorial problems of Georgia." Any article about Georgia in the Russian press must make that clear.

Georgian officials and commentators said that the "Izvestiya" report was totally false. Worse, some of them said, it may point to the existence of a plan by the FSB to launch terrorist attacks on its own and then blame them on Georgia. After all, they point out, the Russian security services have "experience" in this area as well.

That is a reference of course to charges accepted by many independent investigators but denied by Moscow and its supporters that the FSB organized a series of "mysterious explosions" in apartment blocks in Moscow and other Russian cities and blamed them on the Chechens in order to justify Vladimir Putin's attack against that republic.

Meanwhile, another article in the Russian press has not only suggested that Georgia is the real "prison house of peoples," a charge often made against Russia, but that some of its ethnic minorities are becoming increasingly restive and are getting ready to challenge Tbilisi by force.

Perhaps the most serious threat to the territorial integrity of Georgia that Tbilisi talks so much about, Aleksey Chichkin says in an analysis posted online today, comes from the ethnic Armenians in the south. Not only did they support Russia in its recent campaign in Georgia, but they are demanding autonomy and have formed "armed detachments" to press for it.

But if the Armenians are the most prominent minority, other groups, including Azerbaijanis, Lezgins, and even communities within the Georgian nation like the Svans are, according to Chichkin, demanding their rights. Regardless of how true these statements may be now, they are clearly intended to remind Tbilisi that Moscow can intervene by supporting them.

And to the extent such articles continue to appear and the ones surveyed above are but the tip of the iceberg of Russian commentary on Georgia ­ there is little likelihood that the two sides will be able to find any common ground and a great danger that there will be a new explosion, possibly even more destructive than the August war.

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