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A plot caught on tape

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, May 31
Yesterday, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA) released video footage of testimonies of the members of a group of 24 armed men detained near Kintsvisi in Shida Kartli region on May 26. Temur Khachishvili former Minister of Interior Affairs of Georgia (in 1990s) and co-leader of paramilitary group “Mkhedrioni” coordinated the group’s activities from the Russian Federation where he currently resides. In 1997 Khachishvili was charged for carrying out a terrorist act against the then Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Having been released after his seven-year imprisonment the former Minister threatened to withdraw Mikheil Saakashvili from his Presidential post in 2008.

As the detained members of Khachishvili’s group have admitted in their testimonies, they aimed to stage armed provocations during the recent street protest rallies in Tbilisi. According to the intercepts of phone calls and confession statements of the detained persons, Badri Bitsadze [Nino Burjanadze’s husband] and his “Sworn-in-Brothers” should have intensified violence by breaking and burning cars and various strategic buildings. Khachishvili’s armed group located in Kintsvisi should have further joined the specially established public-political movement chaired by Nika Goguadze which helped them aggravate the situation. Goguadze said he had visited Moscow with Ramaz Gvaladze in the beginning of May to meet Temur Khachishvili and his allies to receive further instructions.

“The decision of creating the National-Religious Movement was taken by the sides during that visit. This movement should have encouraged Bitsadze-Burjanadze’s protest rallies by providing them with people and by making provocative steps to irritate the policemen,” Goguadze said in his testimony adding that Khachishvili’s armed group would have moved to Tbilisi to back up the protesters as soon as the situation at the rallies became volatile enough.

As Goguadze told the MIA Badri Bitsadze was interested to know when Khachishvili would have managed to send his armed group to assist the National-Religious Movement and the “Sworn-in-Brothers”. Khachishvili seemed to have been ready to assist Bitsadze at any time when the processes would have repined. That entire scenario according to Goguadze had ended with their arrest in Kintsvili thus the “special operation” had failed.

Goguadze had been providing his partners with some information about the situation at the protest rallies. Waiting for their further ciphered instructions Goguadze was asked to maximally mobilize his team and get ready for the decisive moment. “Khachishvili had given me a book for solving the code. He had left another similar book for himself and we exchanged information in that way,” Goguadze stated.

Elizbar Javelidze from Representative Public Assembly denied any connections between Badri Bitsadze and the “Sworn-in-Brothers”. “Bitsadze is not even the member of the Assembly - it is the total lie that he took responsibility of controlling the Sworn-in-Brothers. We, the executive council of the Assembly had accepted regulations about the Sworn-in-Brothers’ and if there is any crime let them detain us all together,” Javelidze stated.

In a statement released by the Representative Public Assembly on Monday “the accusations against Bitsadze have only been aimed for his detention.” “On May 26 we, all the leaders of the Assembly had been standing with our people from the beginning of the protest rallies to the end. We are sure that Saakashvili would pay for his crimes against the Georgian people,” was said in a statement stressing the Assembly would continue fighting against Saakashvili’s “bloody regime”.

Talking of the anti-national and pro-Russian orientation of Temur Khachishvili and his allies, analyst Nika Chitadze did not doubt the authenticity of the video footage released by MIA. “Khachishvili was involved in many illegal activities during his ministerial period apart from the attack on Eduard Shevardnadze and murder of Gia Chanturia - leader of National-Democratic Party,” the analyst told The Messenger. Stressing that the other members of the group like Valeri Gelbakhiani and Vladimer Khomeriki had also been accused of having a criminal past, Chitadze supposed that the recent protesters could have wished to create destabilization with the help of the “state traitors” due to a lack of other supporters.