Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 56

The "Zviadist" former Finance Minister Guram Absandze was extradited by Russia to Georgia on March 20 as a suspect in the February 9 assassination attempt against Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Georgia’s First Deputy Prosecutor-General Revaz Kipiani, who escorted Absandze to Tbilisi, stated upon his return that he "had to bang his fist on the desks of several Moscow offices" before obtaining the extradition decision. Absandze, in Russia since 1993, had become a businessman in Smolensk region and is accused of having contributed financially to the commando operation against Shevardnadze.

The Russian authorities at the same time released without charges the five Georgians who had been detained last week in the Zviadist "information center" in Moscow. The Zviadist former vice-chairman of parliament Nemo Burchuladze was also released, but in this case it was Tbilisi who proposed the release in the interest of dialogue with Zviadists in Georgia. Burchuladze is expected to arrive in Tbilisi shortly in order to continue discussions he had begun with Shevardnadze in late February.

Official Moscow continues claiming that it does not know the whereabouts of Georgia’s former State Security chief Igor Giorgadze and five associates, the presumed organizers of the 1995 unsuccessful coup against Shevardnadze. Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry, which protected that group in Moscow since 1995, now suggests that Giorgadze has left Russia.

In Tbilisi, Parliament Chairman Zurab Zhvania welcomed the extradition of Absandze as a "very serious step toward creating an atmosphere of confidence between Tbilisi and Moscow." He emphasized, however, that "the most acute issue between Georgia and Russia is the issue of Abkhazia." (Russian agencies, March 20 and 21)

Abkhaz, South Ossetian Leaders Developing Ties in Russia.