24 May 2017 - 13:20
Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a commander who was deployed in Georgia’s Tskhinvali region during the 2008 conflict as Russia’s new "ambassador” to the breakaway region.
Marat Kulakhmetov, the new so-called ambassador, commanded the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPKF) in Tskhinvali region (also known as South Ossetia) in 2004-2008.
Putin issued an ordinance appointing Kulakhmetov to the role yesterday.
Georgian State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Victor Dolidze sees this move of Putin as "cynical”.
"I remember Kulakhmetov. I’ve met him on multiple occasions during my diplomatic service in Vienna. He was a so-called "peacekeeper” in the Tskhinvali region”, Dolidze said.
"This is another provocative step. Kulakhmetov is an occupant just like any other Russian military servant who has been deployed in Tskhinvali. We can say that it is kind of cynical that Kulakhmetov has been sent back to the region”.
Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said that Kulakhmetov is "just another representative of an occupant force”.
"Together with our partners we will continue working in all directions to end the occupation and be able to restore our territorial integrity, sovereignty and, most importantly, unite societies”, Janelidze said.
Georgian State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said this move is in line with the policy Russia implements on the Georgian territory.
"For us any appointment within Russia’s so-called recognition policy that violates Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is absolutely unacceptable. Thus, of course, this appointment has no legitimacy and power for us. Moreover, we are talking about the man who was personally involved in the 2008 events”, Tsikhelashvili said.
Kulakhmetov will replace Elbrus Kargiev who served as the so-called ambassador of Russia to the occupied region since 2008, when Russia recognised the region’s independence.