Georgia's revenues hit by Russian border closure - official

Prime-News news agency
30 Sep 04

Tbilisi, 30 September: As a result of Russia's unilateral decision to
close the Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border, Georgia's
state budget has suffered losses of around 4m lari [about 2.2m
dollars], deputy chair of the Georgian parliament's foreign relations
committee, Salome Samadashvili, said at a meeting of the committee
today. Samadashvili noted that Armenian citizens were also suffering
losses because of the closed checkpoint.

First Deputy Foreign Minister Nika Tabatadze informed the meeting
that the Foreign Ministry and State Border Guard Department, in
coordination with the National Security Council, were working with
the Russian side to resolve the issue.

Tabatadze said that since the closure of the Lars checkpoint passengers
and freights from Russia had switched to the [South Ossetian capital]
Tskhinvali route, through the Roki tunnel. However, this creates legal
problems because there is no Georgian checkpoint on this section of
the border, Tabatadze said. He also noted that Armenian citizens were
unable to travel to their country through Georgian territory.

At the moment, National Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili is
trying to reach an agreement on these issues with his Russian colleague
Igor Ivanov, Tabatadze said. He noted that the Armenian ambassador to
Georgia, Georgiy Khosroyev, visited the Foreign Ministry to discuss
the problem. Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania has taken the situation
under his personal control, Tabatadze added.

Russian President [Vladimir] Putin ordered the Lars checkpoint to be
closed after the terrorist attack in Beslan.