SUKHUMI SAYS TBILISI'S PLAN TO DIVIDE ABKHAZIA 'INSANE'

RIA Novosti
June 27
Moscow

Abkhazia's leadership considers Tbilisi's proposed plan to divide the
unrecognized republic into zones of Russian and Georgian influence
to be "insane," the republic's foreign minister said on Friday.

A Russian business daily, Kommersant, citing sources in the Georgian
leadership and the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Georgia had proposed
to Russia an array of measures to resolve the Georgian-Abkhazian
conflict by dividing the breakaway republic into a large Russian
zone and a small Georgian zone with the restoration of Georgia's
sovereignty over the territory.

"I would not like to comment on the absurd plans that are being
made," Sergei Shamba said. "They [Georgia] are incapable of taking a
sensible view of the situation, and are proposing some fantastically
insane plans."

He said such a plan could only be carried out by "conducting a military
operation, pulverizing Abkhazia, and destroying its people."

"If we are not agreeing to broad autonomy for the entire Abkhazian
territory, how can we possibly agree to hand over half of our
territory and accept self-governance status on the other half as a
part of Georgia?" he said.

Abkhazia 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 hostilities.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained in recent
months, since Russia stepped up support for Abkhazia and sent more
peacekeeping troops into the region. Tbilisi has accused the Kremlin
of trying to annex the territory and shooting down an unmanned
reconnaissance plane.

Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Tbilisi's claims that it is seeking
to annex Abkhazia and has condemned Georgia's policy toward the rebel
region, which Russia says could lead to new bloodshed.