Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 196

Georgian authorities report the apprehension of approximately a dozen Zviadists, military and civilian, who were involved in the October 19 abortive putsch (see the Monitor, October 20, 21). Several times that number remain at large in small groups or individually in Mingrelia, supposedly a Zviadist stronghold. The authorities identified yesterday a co-leader of the putsch in the person of Lieutenant-Colonel Revaz Asmava, who is on the run with the main rebel leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Akaki Eliava. State Security Minister Jemal Gakhokidze personally heads the investigation at the Senaki motor-rifle regiment, where the rebellion began.

Security forces are under strict orders to take Eliava alive in order to clarify who stood behind the putsch. Russian intelligence services are suspected of having inspired it as part of attempts to thwart oil transit projects, in the run-up of the crucial October 29 meeting in Ankara. A prominent opposition leader, however, former parliament chairman Vahtang Goguadze, expressed the view that the government had staged the putsch in order to alienate Georgia from Russia. That view is shared by a broad array of small groups, diverse ideologically but united by their hostility to Shevardnadze. Their emerging coalition includes the main Zviadist faction, unreconstructed communists, communists revamped as socialists, elements in Ajaria and a faction of Georgian refugees from Abkhazia. Goguadze yesterday urged Shevardnadze to make his peace with Moscow as a precondition to resolving Georgia’s problems, including the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts. Goguadze offered to arrange a meeting between Shevardnadze and Igor Giorgadze, the accused organizer of the 1995 assassination attempt against Shevardnadze. Giorgadze has since resided in Russia (Georgian radio and television, cited by Russian agencies, October 22).