Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze has ordered the General Prosecutor to investigate charges that the State Security Ministry has wiretapped the telephones of opposition journalists. The president announced that he shares the concerns expressed by parliamentary deputies at hearings last week, when the opposition presented tapes of telephone conversations of the chief editor of the Sakartvelo opposition newspaper. The tapes were made available by a major in the Security Ministry, who accused the minister, Lt. Gen. Shota Kviraia, of having ordered the interception. Another opposition group made available to a parliamentary investigative committee an alleged videotape recording of Kviraia personally shooting six people captured in Zugdidi during a 1993 operation against forces of the late president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Kviraia has denied the charges. (Kontakt, Prime-News (Tbilisi), Russian agencies, June 25-29)
A key figure in Shevardnadze’s effort to rid the country of armed gangs, Kviraia helped the president prevail successively against Gamsakhurdia and against warlords and crime leaders Tengiz Kitovani and Jaba Ioseliani, as well as against the followers of deposed security chief Igor Giorgadze. Kviraia helped purge the security apparatus after a 1995 assassination attempt against Shevardnadze, which was apparently organized by the then-chief of state security Igor Giorgadze.
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