Russian authorities on March 17 and 18 arrested several supporters of the late Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, including former Finance Minister Guram Absandze and former Vice-Chairman of Parliament Nemo Burchuladze. The authorities also raided the Zviadist "information center" in Moscow and seized documents. Those arrested had lived openly in Russia since 1993. Georgian law enforcement officials flew to Moscow in order to expedite the extradition of those arrested and escort them to Georgia for investigation and trial. The charges stem from the 1993 Zviadist uprising in Mingrelia against the Georgian government and the February 1998 assassination attempt against President Eduard Shevardnadze, which was immediately followed by the seizure of UN officers in an attempt to blackmail Tbilisi. (Russian agencies, March 18)
Georgia has accused Russia of "harboring international terrorists" ever since the 1995 assassination attempt against Shevardnadze. It raised these recriminations to a pitch since the latest attempt on the president’s life. Moscow observers surmise that the Kremlin may have promised to extradite these suspects as a price for securing Shevardnadze’s attendance at the CIS summit scheduled for March 19. Shevardnadze had set conditions for attending the summit. The Kremlin unexpectedly postponed the gathering on March 17 when President Boris Yeltsin developed an illness. The arrest of Zviadists, however, went ahead.
Russian authorities continued to claim yesterday that they did not know the whereabouts of Georgia’s former State Security chief Igor Giorgadze and his associates. The group, deemed responsible for the 1995 coup attempt, has since enjoyed the protection of the Russian military and Internal Affairs Ministry.
Dushanbe Pressuring Opposition to Disarm.