Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 63

Georgia observed yesterday the seventh anniversary of the national referendum that resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence from the USSR. In a speech to an anniversary gathering and in a national radio address the preceding day, President Eduard Shevardnadze paid homage to then President Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s personal merits in organizing that referendum and in campaigning for Georgia’s independence. The president appealed to remaining political supporters of the late president to work with the other political forces for the country’s future while expressing their views peacefully through the political process. Shevardnadze has since February made a series of overtures to diehard Zviadists, as part of a general policy of national conciliation.

Some 300 irreconcilable supporters of the late president rallied under police supervision in downtown Tbilisi yesterday, marking both the referendum anniversary and Gamsakhurdia’s birthday. The late president’s widow Manana Archvadze led the rally. The preceding day, Manana and a Zviadist group had crisscrossed Tbilisi calling on the public to participate in the event. The 300-strong attendance was normal attendance for Zviadist rallies. Their following is factionalized. Manana holds several former officials of Gamsakhurdia responsible for his death. Last week, she blamed it on former Finance Minister Guram Absandze, whom Russia recently extradited to Georgia. (Tbilisi Radio, March 30; Russian agencies, March 26 and 30-31)

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