The Pankisi Gorge. Georgia. Photo by the user Valeri Elashvili https://www.flickr.com/

19 June 2015, 14:59

Borchashvili denied any involvement in recruiting Pankisi residents to war in Syria

Imam Ayuf Borchashvili, detained in Georgia on suspicion of recruiting residents of the Pankisi Gorge for participation in the war in Syria, refuses to plead guilty, said his advocate. His fellow villagers refused to hold a rally with a demand of his release and recollected the events of 2012, when special agents conducted the Lapankuri special operation.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on June 14, five persons were detained in the Pankisi Gorge on suspicion of recruiting for the "Islamic State" (IS).

On the same day, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported that four persons were detained in the Tbilisi Airport, who, according to the police, were going to fly to Turkey, and from there to get to Syria. On June 18, Ayuf Borchashvili, Georgi Khutunishvili, Georgi Kuprava and David Pirisebiya were arrested, said the press service of the court.

Borchashvili believes that his detention is a sort of power agents' revenge for his refusal to cooperate.

According to the advocate Gela Nikoleishvili, Borchashvili has admitted that he knew Muslim Kushtanashvili and Muslim Bagakashvili, minors from Pankisi, who are now at war in Syria. Investigators assert that they had been recruited by Borchashvili; however, he states that he had sent these young men to study in Turkey, not knowing that they had intended to go to fight in Syria.

In 2013, Borchashvili founded the NGO "Vainakhs for Human Rights"; and in 2014, together with like-minded supporters, he negotiated the acquisition of the old local school building for placing a training centre there.

As noted by Mamuka Areshidze, the head of the Centre for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus, today a transit point for the transfer of militants into the territory of Russia cannot be created in Pankisi.

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

Author: Beslan Kmuzov; Source: CK correspondent

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