Continued Chechen Terrorist Threat
to Russia from Georgian Territory

TBILISI (RIA Novosti) – The threat of acts of terrorism still persists from Georgian territory, challenging the security of both Russia and Georgia, says the Novosti-Georgia news agency with reference to a statement circulated Monday by the Russian embassy in Tbilisi.

"This problem can be settled only by taking effective measures to counter terrorism and to promote the coordination of the secret services and frontier guards of the two countries rather than to play down the existence of this grave problem and to pin hopes mainly on international monitoring that has already displayed its inefficiency and exhausted its capacity," says the document.

The embassy notes that quite a number of Russian official statements concerning the presence of Chechen gunmen and terrorists in the Pankisi gorge have been recently made to attract the attention of the Georgian leadership, special services and public to this problem. Moreover, the location of such persons and their approximate strength-250-300 gunmen, including foreign terrorists, have been identified.

"Unfortunately, instead of taking adequate moves, the Georgian side has issued assurances that the Pankisi gorge is free of terrorists, claiming that the absence of gunmen is confirmed by trips to this area by Russian and other foreign visitors. There is substantiated evidence however that on being notified about such visits beforehand, gunmen used to scatter and, on the completion of such visits, to return to the their accommodation in the gorge," says the statement of the Russian embassy in Georgia.

The Russian side has repeatedly raised the question that the Pankisi gorge being close to the Chechen strip of the Russian-Georgian border serves as a refuge to Chechen separatists and radicals. The latter are harbored in the Georgian region, inhabited by ethnic Chechens, among forced Chechen immigrants. There is evidence that the Pankisi gorge is also a channel for foreign aid to separatists