Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday nominated Major-General Vahtang Kutateladze to the post of State Security Minister. The nomination is certain to be approved by the parliament. Kutateladze, 43, has until now been the chief of the State Protection Service, which is responsible for the security of the president and top officials. Kutateladze was at Shevardnadze’s side when the presidential motorcade came under terrorists’ fire last February. The nominee announced yesterday that his top priority will be the overdue reform of the security services. Kutateladze is Georgia’s fourth State Security chief in the space of three years.
Kutateladze’s immediate predecessor, Lieutenant-General Jemal Gakhokidze, was appointed yesterday to a senior post on the National Security Council. Gakhokidze cited budgetary constraints as the factor which thwarted the planned reform of the security services. Gakhokidze expressed confidence in Kutateladze’s ability to carry out the reorganization. Gakhokidze’s predecessor as State Security Minister, Lieutenant-General Shota Kviraia, also holds a senior post on the Security Council (Prime-News, October 27-28).
Russia’s Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov was in Tbilisi for a prosecutors’ conference when the change of Georgian security ministers was announced. Predictably, he was asked about Georgia’s former security chief Igor Giorgadze, the presumed organizer of the 1995 assassination attempt against Shevardnadze and suspected participant in the February 1998 attempt on the president. Skuratov–whose office handles extradition requests–pleaded ignorance of Giorgadze’s exact whereabouts in Russia and placed on Georgia the onus of locating him there (Itar-Tass, October 28). Tbilisi has in vain demanded Giorgadze’s extradition ever since Russian intelligence spirited him to Russia after the failure of the 1995 attempt. He is in open communication with his father, United Communist Party leader Panteleimon Giorgadze in Tbilisi.
CIPCO STRIKES OIL ON THE EVE OF CRUCIAL MEETING ON PIPELINE.