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Georgia: President Blames Opposition For Aide's Apparent Suicide

Tbilisi, 25 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze says the apparent suicide of a government official earlier today was the result of "moral terrorism" waged against him by the opposition. Security Council Secretary Nugzar Sadzhaya died today of gunshot wounds believed to be self-inflicted. The Prosecutor-General's Office has launched an investigation into the case.

Sadzhaya was a close aide to the president, who today called him a loyal and honest man. Shevardnadze blamed the political opposition for what he called "moral terrorism."

"He committed suicide because of moral terror," Shevardnadze said. "He was a man of strong will, very honest and devoted to his job. I knew him for 35 years, we've worked together. He was most reliable and honest. Probably he had strong emotions caused by moral terrorism which we did not notice in time. And when we did, we tried to encourage him, but it was too late -- he had a nervous breakdown."

Opposition officials recently accused Sadzhaya of organizing a series of murders of top politicians in the mid-1990s and plotting to kill Georgia's first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

Sadzhaya had denied the accusations and received Shevardnadze's support amid the allegations.