The stand-off outside Russia’s military headquarters for the Caucasus in the Georgian capital Tbilisi continues. Georgian police have surrounded the building while the authorities wait for the Russians to surrender an intelligence officer accused of spying for Moscow. The Georgians have already arrested four others. The Russian embassy has closed, with a sign saying no visas are available until further notice, but Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili says there is no crisis.
“We will be observing all legal procedures and the rights of all will be protected,” he said. “I don’t understand at all this hysteria – that they want to evacuate Russians and members of their families. There is nothing threatening to Russian military family members in Georgia.”
However the Georgians do want the Russians out of their country and the closure of two big military bases there as they are keen to join NATO – which has angered Moscow – and today look towards Europe more for their future. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov was shaking with anger when he spoke to journalists.
“All this is done to squeeze out our peacekeepers, to push them into illegality and this is done in violation of all previously-achieved agreements,” he said.
Russia also wants the UN Security Council to rebuke Georgia for “dangerous and unacceptable actions.”. It says the arrests threaten the Abkhazian peace process but many Georgians believe Russia supports separatists in the breakaway province.