‘It may be said without any exaggeration that war is about to explode not only in Kakheti (western part of Georgia) and the Pankisi Valley (region in Kakheti) but also in the whole country. Russia has reached its aim as a result of the feebleness of Georgian government. Just a little more and conflict between Georgians and Chechens will last forever’, says ‘the Dilis Gazeti’ and it is worried about the situation existing in the valley. Many supporters of Luca Ramazashvili, leader of the public detached force, created in order to defend the population from kidnappers and drug abusers in Kakheti, have appeared recently. The Georgian press supposes that in case a singe bullet is shot the situation will become uncontrollable.
Even though the process of exchanging hostages was initiated yesterday the armed population is not going to let its positions until criminals are not punished. Two Georgians and one Kist were released as a result of negotiations yesterday. Mamuka Arabuli, one of the released Georgians, said that he was kept in the family of Vepkhia Margoshvili’s, a very influential criminal authority in the Pankisi Valley, brother. Relying on the fact, Elene Tevdorandze, head of the human rights defense committee, stated that Vepkhia Margoshvili should be announced as a suspect accused of kidnapping and a crime case should be initiated against him.
Like other Georgian newspapers, ‘The Resonance’ makes negative comment on the Interior Ministry and Kakha Targamadze, the Minister: ‘Vepkhia Margoshvili has been under criminal search since 1992 but authorities of the Interior Ministry have never thought of the fact’.
‘There is a doubt that the police have not arrested Margoshvili because of definite interests and have been even defending him because he has been aware of certain information, which is not supposed to leak. Secret information is probably about drug business existing between criminals and law enforcement bodies’, Elene Tevdoradze told ‘the Resonance’.
Mamuka Areshidze, expert in Caucasian affairs, told ‘the Akhali Taoba’ that people on high positions are also evolved in drug dealing for it is a quite profitable business. He has once seen how an automobile gave drugs to shops in Akhmeta (town in Kakheti) and the police did nothing about it.
Mikheil Saakashvili, the Justice Minister, also accused the Interior Ministry in having deals with criminals and announced that when the government negotiates with a bandit (criminals in the Pankisi Valley are meant here) the state does not have a feeling of dignity.
The population of Kakheti, raised against injustice, demands that drug dealers be isolated, jurisdiction of Georgia be reestablished, and kidnapping be suppressed in the Pankisi Valley. ‘It is hard to imagine that criminals living in the valley will easily agree on the ultimatums… Kists know that Georgians will do everything in order to avoid bloody war. Besides, neither official structures of Georgia are happy about the public detached force led by Luca Ramazashvili’, ‘the Dilis Gazeti’ states. The following fact admits the opinion of the newspaper: Kakha Targamadze, the Interior Minister, attended the negotiations held between Georgians and Kists yesterday and requested that Chechen and Kist hostages be released without any term. The request was similar to that of the Kist criminals. Targamadze said that he could regulate the situation existing in the valley on his own and that he did not need local population’s assistance. The Georgian press considers that the Interior Ministry should have taken care of the valley earlier. Luca Ramazashvili did not compromise; he did not leave the valley up to the Interior Ministry again.
‘The public detached force will not be dismissed until order is reestablished in the Pankisi Valley. The number of our supporters is increasing day by day’, Avto Mchedlishvili, governor of Pshaveli village, told ‘the Resonance’.
In spite of the population’s will, divisions of the interior forces are not planning to enter the Pankisi Valley yet. President Shevardnadze still hopes that the situation is under control there and that ‘everything will be settled gradually’. ‘No matter how the story develops the fact is that the government is not able to control the state any more`, the newspaper presumes.