LT ambassador refused entry to Georgian village

  • 2008-12-15
  • TBT staff in cooperation with BNS

TBILISI/VILNIUS - Lithuanian Ambassador to Georgia MecysLaurinkus and accompanying diplomats were refused entry into a Russian-occupiedGeorgian village near South Ossetia despite Friday's reports about withdrawal of Russian forces from thelocation.

Laurinkus told BNS that the Perevi village had beenchosen as the venue for the meeting of ambassadors of European Union (EU)member-states, an initiative of the EU's presiding country France.

On Dec. 12, Georgia and EUobservers announced pull-out of Russian troops from Perevi, a border villagewith about 1,100 residents, mainly Georgian nationals.

Nevertheless, a column ofautomobiles marked with diplomatic and other special signs carrying French, Estonian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Dutch ambassadors, and representativesof international organizations was not admitted into the village some 160kilometers from Tbilisi.

In Laurinkus' words,soldiers of Special Forces were present at the entry into the village. "Wesaw 20-30 soldiers, we don't know the number of troops inside thevillage," said the ambassador.

In his words, the diplomatshad to return to Tbilisi after an hour of waiting, Russian soldiers didnot even speak with them. "There was no contact whatsoever,"Laurinkus said, adding that information about the diplomatic visit had been setin advance.

According to informationprovided by the Georgian Interior Ministry, about 500-600 Russian soldiersentered Perevi on the morning of Dec. 13 in what Georgia said was a "militaryoperation" involving paratroopers, helicopters and armored vehicles.

The return of Russiantroops led to withdrawal of Georgian police that had entered the village on Dec.12.

On Dec. 13, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry expressedregret over the refusal to allow EU diplomats into Perevi.

"This is not the firstcase when Russian troops have impeded EU diplomats and international observersin Abkhazia and South Ossetia and neighboring territories from doing their work. This runs counteragreements," said FM director of public relations Rolandas Kacinskas.

He added that they aretrying to highlight the transgressions and impingements of freedoms that hefinds unacceptable in terms of international law.

 "We would like to draw theattention that the constraint of the freedom of movement of ambassadors intheir country of residence is unacceptable under the international law," Kacinskas,told BNS.

He reiterated the call for Russia to pull out its military units tothe positions held before the armed conflict that began in Georgia on Aug. 8.