“I talked to the leadership of our Ministry of Transport. They gave me a hint that they have a plan in perspective to build some new corridor that would connect you and us,” Grigory Karasin, head of the International Affairs Committee of the Council of the Russian Federation, told Zurab Abashidze, Georgian Prime Minister’s Special Representative in Relations with Russia. The audio recording of the phone conversation was released on YouTube yesterday. According to the record, Karasin names the region Krasnodar, to the left of South Ossetia, as the place of construction of a “new corridor” connecting with Georgia. Abashidze explains to Karasin that “now is not the time to talk about that some construction is beginning and there is no need to spread information.” According to him, in 2024, the construction of a huge parallel highway on the Kazbegi-Lars side will be completed - with tunnels, and roads – it’s the road to Russia through the Khada valley.

Zurab Abashidze confirmed the authenticity of the recording. Prime Minister’s Special Representative in Relations with Russia explained that he talked to Karasin in June last year, when the situation was difficult in the direction of Kazbegi-Lars, and thousands of cars were jammed in line on both sides.

“There was a difficult situation and we tried our best to regulate it. I have contacted Karasin through the so-called Prague format. This format exists precisely so that such issues can be resolved through direct contact. It is determined by the agenda and our mandate that we communicated then, we had a phone conversation. We involved local services, border guards, and customs officers to regulate this situation. Our neighboring countries were worried, among them, their representative came from Armenia. This is what we were talking about...

On our side, construction is underway, a parallel large infrastructure project is being implemented, and it is expected to be completed in 2024, after a year and a half, which will help ease the situation. There is a construction that is happening concurrently, roads and tunnels are being built,” said Zurab Abashidze.

Record of Karasini-Abashidze’s conversation:

Abashidze: Hello.

Karasin: Zurab Iraklievich, hello. I’m glad to hear your voice.

Abashidze: Hi, hi.

Karasin: I hope you are all right.

Abashidze: Everything is normal, everything is excellent.

Karasin: Thank God.

Abashidze: How are you, how is the family?

Karasin: It’s okay, life goes on actively. The family is normal. Thank God.

Abashidze: Very good.

Karasin: Do you know why I’m calling? I talked to the leadership of our Ministry of Transport. I want you to be up to date. They are very satisfied with the recent contacts, which were productive and showed mutual interest, in particular, in solving the Upper Lars and other problems. Moreover, they want to make these contacts regular, regardless of whether the traffic situation worsens or not, there are still some problems.

They gave me hints that they have some plan in perspective to build some sort of new corridor that would connect you and us.

Abashidze: Where? it's interesting.

Karasin: I don't know. I didn't have a map with me, but it is directly on the Krasnodar side... As I understand, this is someplace, relatively speaking, to the left of South Ossetia. do you understand?

Abashidze: I didn't understand exactly, but the construction is going on now, which will be completed in a year and a half.

Karasin: What is this?

Abashidze: There is a huge highway parallel to the one on the Kazbegi-Lars side - with tunnels and roads.

Karasin: Do you mean reconstruction of what is already there? modernization?

Abashidze: Reconstruction? No. What already exists, remains, and at the same time, construction is going on. There's a whole...

Karasin: from some distance to that?

Abashidze: Yes, some distance away. Then it will be clear where trucks and light vehicles will drive.

Karasin: You seem to know more than me.

Abashidze: Yes, yes. By the way, we talked about this before, but then it was in the initial stage, and now the construction is going on. The tunnel will be up to 9 kilometers long, the longest in the Caucasus.

Karasin: So it seems they meant it.

Abashidze: Probably, yes. Reconstruction is going on directly with Lars on your side.

Karasin: The point is that on our side they are going to build a fairly permeable access system, etc.

Abashidze: Yes, it should help.

Karasin: I just wanted you to know that. You know that better than I do.

Abashidze: It is clear.

Karasin: The main thing is to facilitate that if necessary, they will be in contact with each other.

Abashidze: They are in touch. Even Pashinyan sent his minister. He met with the Russian one at the border.

Karasin: And here they were talking that Armenia takes an active part there, as they are also interested in this case.

Abashidze: Yes, in any case, this is the opinion here, and it is impossible to convince them that they can let more cars on their side.

Karasin: It's great.

Abashidze: There are huge queues here. Right now, with one of the representatives of the business sector, which is engaged in the transport...

Karasin: Say hi from me to the representative ... [Laughs]

Abashidze: I’ll... In short, it’s not an easy situation, because there are long queues. Speed things up a bit...

Karasin: No, I understand all this and that’s why I decided to call so urgently. Thank God, everything is going to develop there.

Abashidze: ...to be honest, now is not the time to talk about starting something else somewhere.

Karasin: I understand, it would be a bit inadequate.

Abashidze: I want to ask you - are you going to spread any information, or it’s not necessary, perhaps?

Karasin: No, no, no. I am not disseminating any information.

Abashidze: Thank you.

Karasin: I am not going to release any information. Especially since now, I had... No, I am a member of the Russian-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Commission here. Tomorrow, as I know, Lavrov will be in Iran first...

Abashidze: Yes, yes, I saw it.

Karasin: Then he will fly to Baku. So there is a lot of activity.

Abashidze: Thank you.

Karasin: OK, we will be in touch. Is it hot there?

Abashidze: No, no. Not at all. The weather is good, neither hot nor cold. The weather is so nice.

Karasin: We also have good weather. God forbid it gets to 35 degrees now.

Abashidze: There are also such weathers, but not yet, so far it is quite comfortable.

Karasin: Okay. Say hi to your family from me.

Abashidze: Thank you, thank you.

Karasin: Bye

Abashidze: Hugs. Thanks.

From the Krasnodar side, Russia is discussing the construction of a new highway with Georgia through the Marukhi Pass and the Kodori Gorge. Marukhi Pass is on the border of Georgia and Russia. It is located on the main ridge of the Caucasus of Abkhazia, west of the peak Marukh, at an altitude of 2746 m above sea level.

The construction of another new road connecting Russia-Georgia through Mamisoni Pass in Racha is under consideration.

Georgian News will publish an extensive report on this topic in the coming days.

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