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Russia to stop Georgian border guards from detaining ships in 'Abkhaz waters'

Moscow, 28 August: The Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) Coastguard, together with the Abkhaz border guards, will ensure the security of vessels entering Abkhaz territorial waters against their detention by Georgia. In part this is being done as part of the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the head of the border guard department - deputy head of the Russian FSB Border Guard Service, Lt-Gen Yevgeniy Inchin, told RIA Novosti on Friday (28 August).

Georgia views Abkhazia as part of its territory and regards the delivery of cargo to Abkhazia by sea without Tbilisi's permission as breach of the country's legislation. Since the start of 2009 Georgia's coastguard has detained 23 vessels in Abkhaz waters for various violations. Four of them were detained for the violation of the rules for entering waters of "occupied territories".

"At sea they are quite aggressive. Georgia regards entry into Abkhazia's territorial waters as basis for taking various measures against vessels sailing under third countries' flags, including measures of judicial nature," said Inchin.

In his words, the agreement between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia on border protection envisages taking joint action to ensure security in Abkhazia's territorial waters.

Asked whether Russian FSB's coastguard will deprive the Georgian side of the ability to detain vessels sailing to and from Abkhazia Inchin said: "The FSB's border guard department for Abkhazia has a group of boats which will be addressing this task, that is to say ensuring the untouchability (of vessels)."

"Trust me, they will be doing this in an efficient and productive manner, as the 'factor of Sochi' and the forthcoming Olympic Games is in this case the determining one. All of this will happen, in the near future. At present we need to create all the conditions for this," the FSB general said.

Abkhaz border guards too will have border guard boats. They will be addressing the tasks relating to ensuring security in the water zone together with their colleagues from Russia, he added.

"The tasks aren't easy, but we will fulfil them," he said. (Passage omitted: RIA recalls recent detention)

(Interfax news agency quoted the head of the border guard squad of Abkhazia's state security service, Zurab Marghania, as saying: "At present the Russian and Abkhaz border services are drawing up a joint action plan for the prevention of the Georgian border guards' pirate-like actions in the Black Sea.")

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