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Georgian Opposition Deplores Killing Of Alleged Mutiny Suspect


Opposition supporters block traffic in Tbilisi on May 21.

Opposition supporters block traffic in Tbilisi on May 21.

Georgian opposition party leaders staged a demonstration on May 21 outside the Defense Ministry building in Tbilisi to protest the killing in a shoot-out with Interior Ministry troops earlier that day of a suspect in the alleged mutiny on May 5 by members of a tank battalion stationed at the Mukhrovani military base east of Tbilisi.

Former officer Gia Krialashvili was killed in the shoot-out; two other suspects, Colonel Koba Otanadze and Major Levan Amiridze, were wounded and are reportedly in a stable condition in hospital.

New Rightists leader David Gamkrelidze said during the May 21 demonstration that the opposition has evidence suggesting that at first it was planned to kill all three men. Gamkrelidze said President Mikheil Saakashvili did not want the men taken alive and brought to trial as their testimony could prove embarrassing.

Conservative Party leader Zviad Dzidziguri similarly interpreted the shoot-out as an attempt to avoid bringing the three men to trial. "From the very beginning we were sure that these three had nothing to do with the mutiny and were innocent," Caucasus Press quoted him as saying.

Democratic Movement-United Georgia leader and former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze on May 21 called on foreign diplomats accredited in Tbilisi to condemn the arrests of members of Otanadze's family, including his brother Nugzar, who has reportedly been beaten in detention. She likened those arrests to the Stalinist purges of 1937. A third Otanadze brother, Djimsher, was taken into custody on May 20 together with his wife and son.

Meanwhile, the Georgian Interior Ministry released a statement on May 21 claiming the three alleged mutiny participants were planning to escape to the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. The statement said the men were carrying firearms, four mobile phones, and $3,700 in cash.

Former National Guard commander Koba Kobaladze, who was arrested on May 5 on suspicion of advising the insurgents, denies any part in the mutiny and is on hunger strike in pretrial detention. Two former Georgian defense ministers, Gia Karkarashvili and David Tevzadze, have issued a statement in his support.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

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