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Georgia To Reward Drug Informants

17 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian authorities today appealed to citizens to help them curb drug trafficking.

Addressing a press briefing, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said the government has decided to award money to anyone who will provide information leading to the arrest of drug dealers.

"In a week's time, the Interior Ministry will launch a new program," he said. "We have decided to offer rewards to people who will help us arrest drug dealers. In a week's time, I will personally set up a special [police] unit with a hot line. We have decided to offer 1,000 Georgian laris [$555] in return for any information on drug dealers. We hope to proceed to mass arrests of people involved in drug trade."

Merabishvili's comments followed news that police had seized more than 4 kilograms of opium in a Tbilisi suburb.

Also today, reports said handwritten inscriptions denouncing alleged drug dealers appeared overnight on the walls of some of the Georgian capital's apartment blocks.

No one has claimed responsibility for the anonymous denunciations, but Merabishvili welcomed the initiative.

The Caucasus region is a major transit point for narcotics produced in Afghanistan.

(Imedi TV/Novosti-Gruziya)