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Georgia has agreed to UN monitoring of an area in the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia but with a minimal Russian presence
Georgia has agreed to UN monitoring of an area in the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia but with a minimal Russian presence, the country's defense minister said Tuesday. Georgia started what it termed an "anticrime" operation in the Kodori Gorge - the de facto border between the breakaway region and Tbilisi-controlled territory - two weeks ago to find and disarm a rebellious militia unit led by Emzar Kvitsiani, a former Georgian presidential envoy to Abkhazia. "The Georgian side is ready to accept UN monitoring of the gorge provided that Russia's participation in the effort is minimal - no more than one person in the team, and that no Russian helicopters are used to monitor the area," Irakly Okruashvili said. Georgia's parliament called for Russian peacekeepers in two conflict zones dating back to the early 1990s to be declared illegal and the defense minister said Georgia was still insisting on the international monitoring of a Russian military base in the Abkhaz town of Gudauta. The operation began after Kvitsiani said on July 23 he did not recognize Tbilisi's rule. He said Georgian troops were moving into the area to disarm former members of his Hunter border guard battalion, which was formally disbanded in 2005, although most members refused to lay down their arms. The breakaway republic of Abkhazia declared independence in 1992, which led to a conflict with Georgia that ended with a ceasefire two years later. Thousands died during the fighting.
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