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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Fingers pointed in kidnapping of Georgian boy

Geno Petriashvili, the eleven-year-old boy kidnapped in South Ossetia three months ago, was freed unhurt on 25 November. Since then, the government of the breakaway republic and officials in Tbilisi have been trading accusations about his abduction.

From The Messenger:

Separatist authorities in South Ossetia claim their law enforcers succeeded in freeing the boy, Genadi Petriashvili, and returning him to his family.

In Tbilisi the Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili countered that the release was simply staged by official Tskhinvali.

Shortly after the release, the ministry went on to condemn the separatist government as a criminal empire and published a flowchart implicating its leadership as well as the head of Russian peacekeepers in the region in criminal activity.

The South Ossetian and Georgian authorities differ on many aspects of the case, including where the boy was held hostage. The Head of the de facto South Ossetian Press and Information Committee Irina Gagloeva said that the boy was being held in a Georgian village in the conflict zone. Minister Merabishvili as well as the boy himself say he was held captive in the Java region of South Ossetia.

Gagloeva reported the leader of de facto republic of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoiti led the rescue operation himself. She added the boy has already testified to South Ossetian law enforcers.

Georgian authorities, however, claim that a criminal group with links to South Ossetian authorities as well as to Russian peacekeeping forces abducted Petriashvili.

"Kokoiti [Eduard Kokoiti, the self-proclaimed president of South Ossetia] perfectly knew from the first day who kidnapped Petriashvili," Merabishvili said on Friday. He claimed that the kidnappers had negotiations with Ossetian authorities and then together staged the release operation.

Kidnapping has long been a problem in the South Ossetian conflict zone. Eleven-year old Petriashvili told journalists he was kept in a pit for some of the time with his arms bound. The boy could not identify the names or origin of his kidnappers, but said that his capturers spoke Georgian and Russian.

Prime News reports that the South Ossetian government has issued a response:

In return, the de facto Foreign Affaires Ministry stated that the “slanderous tricks by the Interiors Ministry of Georgia are related to the brilliant operations by the South Ossetian law enforcers at the Georgian territories. Owing to those operations Geno Petriashvili, 11, kidnapped by the crime group in the Georgian –South Ossetian conflict zone three months ago, was released and returned to his parents”.

According to the statement, Vano Merabishvili, Georgian Interiors Ministry switched to direct menace against the South Ossetian top officials when “personally guaranteed to make them bear responsibility or die”.

“It was clear that the Georgian party seriously discusses ways of murder of the South Ossetian top officials instead of its widely advertised Peace Plan”, the statement goes.

Geno Petriashvili is the son of a prominent businessman who had dealings with both Georgians and Ossetians.

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