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World must boycott Russian Olympics - Shevardnadze

posted by zaina19 on November, 2007 as ANALYSIS / OPINION

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 10/27/2007 5:48 AM
27 10 2007
World must boycott Russian Olympics - Shevardnadze

Georgia's Former President Eduard Shevardnadze on Wednesday called for the world to boycott Russia's 2014 Winter Olympic games to punish Moscow for "annexing" two Georgian breakaway regions.

Russia and Georgia have been trading threats since the two tiny Caucasus regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- broke away from Tbilisi's rule during wars in the early 1990s.

"Russia annexed the territories of Abkhazia and also South Ossetia," Shevardnadze, a former Soviet Foreign Minister, told Reuters.

"A state that annexes the territory of another state does not have the right to have any chance of holding the Olympic games, moreover Sochi is right next to the conflict zone."

President Vladimir Putin has presented the games as a sign of Russia's revival and vowed to rebuild the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where the games will be held. Sochi is just a half-hour car journey from Abkhazia.

Georgia says Russia illegally supports rebels in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and warns that the regions are being exploited by criminal gangs for arms and drugs smuggling.

Russia denies it annexed the regions and says peacekeepers are preventing an ethnic bloodbath. Moscow says local elections have shown residents support independence from Tbilisi.


Shevardnadze said the Soviet Union was punished for the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan with a U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"In 1980 when the Olympic Games in Moscow coincided with troops being sent into Afghanistan, half the world announced a boycott of the games and so punished the Soviet Union," he said.

"Is the annexation of Abkhazia somehow better than sending troops into Afghanistan?" he asked. "The Soviet Union was fairly punished and so today holding the Olympic games next to the zone of conflict is unacceptable."

Russian members of parliament reacted angrily to Shevardnadze's remarks, saying sport should not be mired with politics.

"Shevardnadze's announcement confirms that this political actor is still thinking in the mould of the Soviet era," Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, told Interfax.

Clashes between pro-Russian and Georgian forces are frequent in the regions, which current Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring back under Tbilisi's rule.

Source: Reuters
Kavkaz Center
Radio Adiga

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