Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday announced that he has accepted Lt. Gen. Shota Kviraia’s resignation as minister of state security. Kviraia "placed Georgia’s interests above his own" by resigning despite the absence of conclusive evidence of his involvement in the unlawful actions by ministry staff, Shevardnadze said in a radio interview. The president said that he acted after reviewing preliminary findings of the general prosecutor’s investigation that he had commissioned. The investigation confirmed that State Security Ministry officers had wiretapped the telephone of at least one opposition newspaper. Shevardnadze placed the deputy minister, Maj. Gen. Jemal Gakhokidze, temporarily in charge of the ministry. (Radio Tbilisi, Russian agencies, July 6-7)
Kviraia last week suspended from duty two senior officers said to have been involved in wiretapping the phone of the Sakartvelo newspaper’s chief editor. The political storm broke out after sources from within the ministry handed over some tapes to the newspaper. The opposition National-Democratic Party’s leader, Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, led the campaign against Kviraia. The minister played a major role in Shevardnadze’s efforts to suppress unlawful armed groups and terrorism. (See Monitor, June 30)
Western Firms to Take Over Flagship Metallurgical Plants.