Georgia 'may have staged' Kaczynski shooting
28.11.08 @ 09:59
BRUSSELS - Georgia may have staged the shooting of a convoy carrying the Polish and Georgian presidents, say leaked Polish security service reports.
South Ossetian paramilitaries fired shots near a motorcade carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to the border of the disputed Akhalgori district last weekend.
The incident highlighted the continuing presence of Russian-backed forces deep inside Georgia in violation of earlier peace treaties, but its impact has been dulled by suspicions that Tbilisi set up the events.
"At the current time and on the basis of the information obtained, the most likely scenario is that the situation may have been created by the Georgian side," a leaked Situation Report by the Polish Internal Security Agency, the ABW, published in the Dziennik daily on Thursday (27 November), says.
The report points out that the Akhalgori visit was not consulted with Polish security services, that Mr Saakashvili stopped the convoy and asked Mr Kaczysnki to step outside the car near the checkpoint and that the Georgian president and his men showed no signs of distress when the shots rang out.
The ABW cites the "difficult situation of the Georgian president with the strengthening internal opposition in the country," as a potential motive for any stunt.
The ABW report could further damage Tbilisi's reputation among EU decision makers, amid a growing consensus in Brussels that Mr Saakashvili's government was partly-responsible for the August war and has eroded its own democratic legitimacy by quashing opposition in the run up to the conflict.
Meanwhile, Polish President Lech Kaczynski has in an open letter urged the European Commission to take a tougher line on Russia.
"It is evident today that Russia is ignoring its earlier commitments, which has sadly met with an inadequately firm reaction from our side," Mr Kazcynski wrote to European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday (27 November).
"This is a test to see if we can contain resurgent imperialism ...it is a test of the Western world's readiness to take a firm stance, when peace, democratic values and the respect for a people's right to self-determination are under threat."
Mr Kaczynski's statement comes after the commission earlier this month pushed to restart talks on a new partnership treaty with Russia, despite Russia's violation of commitments on withdrawing forces from the EU's little neighbour.
The EU-Russia talks - focusing on trade and energy - will formally restart on Tuesday, but a series of low-level preparatory meetings is already under way.