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Abkhaz leader says Georgia planned to invade Abkhazia in spring

RIA Novosti

05/07/2008 14:08 SUKHUMI, July 5 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Bagapsh, the leader of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia said on Saturday that Georgia had plans to attack and invade the region in April-May this year.

"The plan [developed by Georgia's Defense Ministry] has been obtained by the Abkhaz military intelligence services and clearly demonstrates that Georgia intended to occupy...the entire territory of Abkhazia," Bagapsh told a news conference in Sukhumi.

According to the Abkhaz leader, Georgia planned to blockade the outposts of Russian peacekeepers, to launch two simultaneous land offensives on Abkhazia from the Kodori Gorge and the Zugdidi district, and to conduct a seaborne assault on Ochamchira, Sukhumi, and Gagra.

Bagapsh said Georgia has amassed 2,000 troops in the Kodori Gorge alone and increased its contingent on the border with Abkhazia to 12,000 troops since mid-April.

He accused the Georgian leadership of numerous military provocations against Abkhazia and Russian peacekeepers in the region.

"These actions are aimed to destabilize the situation in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and to prepare the international community for the possible aggression against Abkhazia," he said.

Bagapsh also said numerous violations of the Abkhazian airspace by Georgian spy drones were part of the invasion plans.

Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone confirmed on Saturday that Georgian unmanned reconnaissance aircraft continued regular flights over the Georgian-Ablhazian border and violated the region's airspace at least eight times in the past 48 hours.

Georgia has not yet commented on the accusations put forward by the Abkhaz leader.

Abkhazia closed its border with the rest of Georgia on July 1. The move followed two explosions in Abkhazia that the local authorities blamed on Georgian special forces.

The region broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the subsequent fighting.

The pro-Western Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili has said it is determined to bring the breakaway region back under its control, while accusing Russia of trying to annex the breakaway republic, along with another rebel province, South Ossetia.

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