Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Russian Official: Militants Trained in Georgia

Tbilisi: Georgia hosts “special camps” where militants are trained and then sent to join insurgents in North Caucasus, a senior Russian Interior Ministry official in charge of North Caucasus region has alleged.

“Georgia has become visibly active recently,” Nikolai Simakov, deputy head of Interior Ministry’s unit in North Caucasus federal district, said in an interview with Russian newspaper, Vremya Novostei, when asked about foreign aid to militants operating in the North Caucasus.

“We have information that special camps are set on the territory of this country [Georgia] for the training of fighters. Persons from the Caucasus republics, usually criminals as well as those who are at large in European states, are gathered there, trained and sent to us via neighboring countries,” he said in the newspaper interview, published on September 6.

“A clash took place recently when a group tried to cross into Russia from Azerbaijan; an Azerbaijani border guard died, one fighter was killed and two others detained. It was revealed during the interrogation, that they were recruited by extremist organizations and sent to Georgia for training with a goal to then operate on Russian territory,” Simakov said.

When last month the U.S. Department of State released an annual country report on terrorism, saying that “Russia’s claims of Georgian support for Chechen terrorists and the harboring of such individuals in the Pankisi gorge were unsubstantiated”, the Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the report’s Georgia section as biased.

"The report portrays Georgia as a truly exemplary fighter against terrorism. Herewith it ignores available information that Georgia is playing a double game in respect of terrorist underground in the North Caucasus," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on August 13.