As Georgia and Russia attempt to improve relations, Chechen refugees in the Georgia's Pankisi Gorge are reporting increased police harassment and a growing sense of insecurity. While Tbilisi maintains it has no intention of forcibly returning refugees to Russia, Chechens in the Pankisi Gorge are expressing a desire to be resettled in the West.
Chechen concerns have been spurred by a recent Russian demand that Georgia take action to eradicate suspected Chechen militants from the Pankisi Gorge. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Many Chechens believe Georgian officials will fulfill the demand, issued shortly before Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze's resignation and departure for Russia, as part of a quid pro quo for Russia's cooperation with President Mikheil Saakashvili's administration on Ajaria. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
To read the full story
Elizabeth Owen is a is a freelance writer specializing in political issues in the Caucasus.