The twin blasts in North Ossetia -- which borders the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia that seeks union with Russia -- effectively shut down the main pipeline supply Georgia with Russian gas at a time when the region is weathering a brutal cold snap. The same day, electricity supplies to Georgia were interrupted following an explosion at a transmission tower on Russian territory.
Saakashvili wasted little time in pointing the finger at Russia, claiming the attacks "were done so that Georgia will break apart...and fall into the hands of Russia."
Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze told Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio on January 23 that the attacks were "deliberate action against Georgia," adding that "I am more than sure that major Russian forces, including special services, are unfortunately interested in destabilizing the situation."
Russia immediately dismissed the allegations, placing the blame on pro-Chechen insurgents in North Ossetia, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saakashvili's comments "cannot be seen as other than hysteria."
Really So 'Hysterical'?
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Victor J. Yasmann is a senior regional analyst with RFE/RL Online and specializes in Russian and Central Eurasian affairs, foreign policy, and international security. He holds an M.A in Economics from the Kharkiv Engineering Economic Institute and joined RFE/RL as a Soviet Affairs Analyst in 1984.