Georgian Military Rebellion Ends; Saakashvili Accused of Staging Coup
A mutiny in a Georgian tank battalion ended after negotiations with President Saakashvili. The military revolted following the Interior Ministrys allegation of planned coup detat. (6:49):
Troops at a Georgian military base outside Tbilisi, the capital, have ended their rebellion, the country’s interior minister has said.
Vano Merabishvili said a commander at the Mukhrovani base in the Gori region had been arrested following the mutiny on Tuesday.
The rebellion concluded after armoured vehicles were sent to surround the base and Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, headed into the military unit.
“We entered the base and calmed everyone down. The commander has been arrested and others are being questioned,” Merabishvili said.
Georgian ex-military plan coup
The Georgian Interior Ministry says it has uncovered a plan to overthrow the government, hatched by former military top brass. (6:30):
The fact that a whole tank battalion, which is a large force for a small Georgian army, started a mutiny signifies institutional trouble in Mikhail Saakashvilis powerbase, says Fred Weir from Christian Science Monitor. (12:20):
Russia has dismissed as “insane” claims that it was behind a mutiny at a military base in Georgia on the eve of Nato war games planned in the former Soviet state.
Moscow’s response on Tuesday came hours after dozens of Georgian tanks and armoured vehicles surrounded the Mukhrovani base in the Gori region, bringing a mutiny among 500 soldiers to an end.
The commander of the tank base had been arrested and other soldiers were being questioned, Georgia’s interior ministry said.
“It’s over. Most of the people have surrendered. A few people have escaped,” Shota Utiashvili, an interior ministry spokesman, said. >>>
Its political theatre, not a coup
Recent events in Georgia look like a political theatre,but not a coup, says Andrey Klimov, head of the State Duma committee on European co-operation. (1:36):
Georgia’s opposition claims President Mikheil Saakashvili staged an alleged coup plot to deter public attention from a domestic political turmoil.
“I have the impression this is nothing but a theatrical show staged by Saakashvili to distract people from the ongoing protests against his rule,” AFP quoted opposition leader David Gamkrelidze of the New Rights party as saying on Tuesday.
The remarks came hours after the country’s interior ministry announced the uncovering of a military coup plot and an assassination plan ‘backed by Russia’.
Gamkrelidze said the opposition would press on with planned rallies to block main highways after a temporary pause in light of the heightened security.
The plans for the large-scale protests were announced on Monday after a month-long campaign of anti-government protests, when rival opposition groups temporarily put aside differences to join forces, calling for a general ‘civil disobedience’.
The mutiny of about 500 troops at a base outside Tbilisi ended without violence after the president visited the base and urged the rebels to surrender their arms.
The unrest broke out on the eve of NATO war games in the ex-Soviet republic, which has been slammed by Russia as an unwise move in a country just out of war, referring to its August conflict with Georgia over Tbilisi’s actions in South Ossetia.
Georgian officials accused Russia of planning to ‘disrupt’ the NATO exercises, but Moscow’s envoy to the alliance said the charges were ‘provocative stupidity’.
“If Saakashvili gets diarrhea, it must also be the hand or foot of Moscow,” Dmitry Rogozin said in comments broadcast on state television
“Georgia’s latest accusations against Russia demonstrate the sick imagination and irresponsible behavior of the Georgian leadership,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
“Instead of dialogue inside the country, the Georgian leadership tries to make absolutely delirious accusations against Russia,” he added.
It seems to be a coup imitation
Saakashvili badly needed arguments both to convince NATO that he is still threatened by Moscow, and to repress his opposition, says Kirill Koktysh from the Moscow State University of International Relations. (2:25):
- Georgians Announce “National Disobedience Campaign” Until President Steps Down (10 Apr 09)
- Hundreds of Thousands Rally in Georgia Calling for President to Step Down (9 Apr 09)
- Russia Takes Formal Control of Georgia Borders (1 May 09)
- Russia Threatens Action on West/U.S. Backed War Games in Georgia (17 Apr 09)