At least five people were killed and seven wounded yesterday in the western Georgian town Zugdidi, when an unidentified gunman fired at mourners during the funeral of Gocha Esebua. A crowd of 1,000 was accompanying the Esebua family at the funeral. (International agencies, April 5) The twenty-nine-year-old Zviadist had been killed in a clash with Georgian security police on March 31. (See Monitor, April 1)
A probable member of the squad that attempted to assassinate President Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, Esebua then led the armed group of twenty that kidnapped four UN military observers on February 19 near Zugdidi. The area is a traditional stronghold of supporters of the late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The assault on the funeral procession seems to have been made to order to undermine Shevardnadze’s political overtures to remaining Zviadists in the area.
In a related development, on April 4, Georgia’s National Security Council found "serious flaws" with the performance of all security and law enforcement agencies in connection with the assassination attempt against the president and the kidnapping of UN hostages. The Security Council session, chaired by Shevardnadze, instructed the heads of all agencies to determine within a week which officials were responsible for those flaws. The announcement may presage some dismissals. (Kontakt, April 4)
OSCE Develops Serious Reservations Over Armenian Election.