In a bizarre incident, some 200 soldiers took part last week in a short-lived rebellion against President Eduard Shevardnadze. The rebellion was quickly put down, with at least one loyalist and four rebels killed. President Shevardnadze and other Georgian officials denounced the rebellion as an effort, with Russian support, to discredit Georgia as a reliable country of transit for oil and gas headed to Western markets. In a gesture of support, Azerbaijan’s President Haidar Aliev had the Azerbaijan International Operating Company very publicly resume pipeline construction in Georgia after a two-day interruption. In a gesture of contempt, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev took to the airwaves to describe the rebels as “quite a serious force” and to urge Shevardnadze to enter into a “political dialogue” with them.