Germany’s embassy in Georgia announced over the weekend that the German government has given President Eduard Shevardnadze a Mercedes armored car to replace the one disabled in the February 9 assassination attempt. In a statement from Bonn, made public in Tbilisi, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel noted that "Germany has been shaken by the attempt, as we Germans owe Shevardnadze a large debt of gratitude." Bonn has often noted Shevardnadze’s contribution, as foreign minister of the USSR, to facilitating the peaceful reunification of Germany.
Georgia’s Parliament Chairman Zurab Zhvania, Internal Affairs Minister Kakha Targamadze, State Security Minister Jemal Gakhokidze and other Georgian officials rejected — in unison — Chechen field commander Salman Raduev’s claim that he and/or his fighters had been responsible for the assassination attempt. In separate statements over the weekend, the Georgian officials described Raduev’s claims as designed to mislead the investigation and as possibly suggested to him by the real perpetrators. They also pointed to Raduev’s record of claiming responsibility for operations undertaken by others.
In Grozny, Chechen leaders echoed Tbilisi’s position, adding that Raduev’s claims may be designed to derail the growing Chechen-Georgian rapprochement. The Chechen leaders announced that legal proceedings have been instituted against Raduev for spreading anti-Chechen propaganda. They also reaffirmed the offer to Georgian law-enforcement agencies to investigate the affair on Chechen territory. (Iprinda, Kavkazia Press, Prime News, Russian agencies, February 13-15)
In Moscow, the governmental Rossiiskaya gazeta traced the assassination attempt to a "ruthless struggle" between Shevardnadze and the "shadow economy." It predicted that "attempts against Shevardnadze will continue." (Itar-Tass, February 13)
Kazakh Opposition Leader Coopted?