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Georgia ‘Mutiny Plot’ Suspect Killed

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21 May 09 | RT and BBC

An alleged organizer of the mutiny at a military base in Georgia has been killed and two others injured in a shoot-out with police, the countrys Interior Ministry says. (2:49):

The former military officers had been on a nation-wide wanted list for their role in the mutiny on May 5 seeking to disrupt a NATO exercise in the country.

Itar-Tass reports, citing Georgian TV stations, that the trio was discovered by police as they were trying to leave the capital Tbilisi in a minivan.

Reports claim the suspects ignored police orders to stop and began shooting. As a result of return fire, Gia Krialashvili was shot dead and two others – Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze – wounded.

Reports claim the suspects ignored police orders to stop and began shooting. As a result of return fire, Gia Krialashvili was shot dead and two others – Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze – wounded.

The two were taken to hospital in Tbilisi where they underwent surgery. According to the hospital’s dean of medicine, both victims had gun wounds and an operation was required.

“The operation passed normally, the patients’ health is in accordance to the operations they endured, and now they are in intensive care,” the official told RIA Novosti.

According to Interfax, Krialashvili’s relatives learned of his death from TV news.

The man’s wife, Tamara Shanidze, told a Georgian radio station:

“Anyways, I’m proud of my husband. My husband was a true man. It’s better if he lies here, dead, than if he was with those monsters.”

Interfax writes, citing Georgian media, that Otanadze’s brother, wife, and 19-year-old son, who had earlier been arrested, were set free.

Meanwhile, the suspect’s second brother, Nugzar, is serving a two-month term in prison for resisting police.

Before leaving Tbilisi, the suspects went into hiding in various places around Georgia’s capital. They then planned to leave the city and spend several days in the Tskhvarichamiya village located near Tbilisi.

Georgian police claim that the confrontation took place because the suspects allegedly attempted to escape to South Ossetia. Nevertheless, officials in Tskhinval called this suggestion “nonsensical”.

“We had information that government officials did not want to find these people to use them as part of an investigation and there was an order issued to kill them during a special operation. Unfortunately it happened like this,” Nino Burdzhanadze, Georgian opposition leader, told journalists.

“Of course I don’t want to judge without at least a preliminary investigation, but I am absolutely sure it was a criminal action by the police because special forces would have been able to take these people alive without such tragic results,” she added.

“The immediate reaction might be to point at Saakashvili, saying he is covering his tracks, unfairly killing one of the guys, with two of them wounded,” he said.

Watch Oliphant and RT political commentator Peter Lavelle who offer their views on the situation in Georgia.

The mutiny

Georgian officials originally linked the mutiny with an attempted coup, but later backtracked on the claims.

The mutiny in a Georgian tank battalion on May 5 was suppressed and about 500 troops were disarmed and questioned.

President Saakashvili visited the Mukhorvani military base, personally spoke to the leader of the mutiny, and convinced him to surrender.

Georgian officials claimed a coup d’etat was unearthed in the country, which was aimed at thwarting NATO exercises and perhaps even seizing power.

Georgia has since blamed Russia for being involved in organizing the rebellion.

The political climate in Georgia has been far from calm since April 9 when mass protests against current Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili began. The latter, however, repeatedly said he would not step down before the end of his term in 2013.

RT correspondent Anissa Naouai, who has been covering the protests in the Georgian capital, says “it really seems like a dead end situation, partly because there are so many opposition parties.”

She says until they get together and unite and put forward one candidate who could say ‘I can be a better president,’ the opposition isn’t strong enough.

The Georgian opposition has notified on Thursday the administration of the capital’s country, Tbilisi that they plan to extent their around-the-clock protests to the 26th of June.

On Thursday the opposition blocked central streets of Tbilisi, blocking movement within the city. Participants called the police’s actions against the suspects “political terrorism”, RIA Novosti reports.

“This is a preemptive action against all the anticonsitutional actions of president Saakashvili,” the leader of the country’s Conservative party.

RT correspondent Anissa Naouai, who has been covering the protests in the Georgian capital, says “it really seems like a dead end situation, partly because there are so many opposition parties.”

She says until they get together and unite and put forward one candidate who could say ‘I can be a better president,’ the opposition isn’t strong enough.

‘Hiding’

An interior ministry spokesman said gunfire had broken out in the suburb of Gldani at 0100 on Thursday (2100 GMT on Wednesday), where the three wanted men had been hiding from police.

He said that the suspects had fired first, but that Mr. Krialashvili had died in the ensuing exchange of fire.

The two other men, Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze, have been taken to hospital though their wounds were said to be “not life-threatening”. A lawyer for the two wounded men said he had been prevented from visiting them.

Officials say they believe Mr. Otanadze was the mastermind behind the mutiny among a tank battalion at Mukhrovani two weeks ago.

At the time, the government said the plot was part of a wider Russian-backed rebellion whose aim was to destabilise this month’s NATO-led military exercises in Georgia or to oust President Saakashvili.

Opposition leaders denied this and said it was staged by the authorities to distract attention from planned opposition roadblocks around the capital that day.

There has been no independent verification of either account.

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Written by Editors

21 May 2009 at 5:21 pm

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