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MoD Says Military Unit Mutinies
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 May.'09 / 13:23

Davit Sikharulidze, the Georgian defense minister, said a tank battalion based in Mukhrovani, close to Tbilisi, staged mutiny on Tuesday morning.

“Some civilians, who have nothing to do with the battalion, are also there,” Sikharulidze told Rustavi 2 TV in a phone interview.

“They have not put forth any concrete demand,” he added.

The Georgian Interior Ministry said earlier that “a full-scale” military mutiny was planned in the Georgian army by some former military officials, who were “in coordination with Russia.”

“As it seems this mutiny was coordinated with Russia and aimed at minimum thwarting NATO military exercises and maximum organizing full-scale military mutiny in the country,” Shota Utiashvili, head of the information and analytical department of the Interior Ministry, said on May 5.  

He said that Gia Gvaladze, who was commander of the Defense Ministry’s special task force in 1990s, was arrested in connection with plotting of the mutiny.

Defense Minister Sikharulidze also said that apart of thwarting the planned NATO exercises, which are scheduled to start on May 6, the mutiny possibly also aimed at overthrowing the government.

The Interior Ministry has also released a video footage, recorded apparently with a body-worn covert camera and showing a man, purportedly Gia Gvaladze, talking to several persons. There were at least three persons, apart of Gvaladze - faces of two men were blurred in order not to identify them and the third one to whom the body-worn camera was attached.

When speaking about the planned mutiny Gvaladze mentions names of former senior military and security officials, including of Davit Tevzadze, a former defense minister; Jemal Gakhokidze, a former security minister; Koba Kobaladze, a former commander of national guard and Gia Karkarashvili, a commander of the Georgian army during the Abkhaz war in early 90s. Karkarashvili is now affiliated with Irakli Alasania’s political team, part of opposition Alliance for Georgia. Gvaladze says that these people would be supporting the planned mutiny.

He also says in the footage that murder of some senior officials and President Saakashvili’s close allies were also planned, including Giga Bokeria, deputy foreign minister; Vano Merabishvili, the interior minister and Gigi Ugulava, the Tbilisi mayor. The man also says in the footage that 5,000-strong Russian troops would move in and take positions at key east-west highway close to Tbilisi.

Road leading to the Mukhrovani base has been sealed off by the law enforcement agencies.

The Georgian army battle tanks were seen heading towards the Mukhrovani base.

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