Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 163

Georgia’s former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani and two accomplices went on trial in Tbilisi yesterday on charges of having organized an illegal armed formation. One of the codefendants is former deputy prime minister (under Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s rule) Irakly Surguladze. Kitovani and a large group of followers were arrested last January when they attempted to enter Abkhazia with their armed unit to continue the fighting there. The prosecution charges that Kitovani and his followers "would have returned Georgia to chaos and civil war" if permitted to operate. (15)

Jaba Ioseliani, leader of the paramilitary and political organization Mkhedrioni and a confederate of Kitovani, was arrested last month after failing to get re-elected to the new parliament and thus losing his immunity. The two were linked to the criminal underground and achieved great political influence during the years of turmoil that accompanied Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s presidency and the Abkhaz war. Kitovani and Ioseliani with their armed followers spearheaded the overthrow of Gamsakhurdia and decisively supported Eduard Shevardnadze’s return to power. Shevardnadze later successfully cracked down on the two groups and ultimately on their leaders.

Armenia Inaugurates Vital Bridge to Iran.