Maj. Gen. Joni Pirtskhalaishvili resigned yesterday as deputy defense minister of Georgia over differences with the minister, Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze. Pirtskhalaishvili, an ex-Soviet career officer, had served as the first defense minister of independent Georgia under the late president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, but was later reconciled with current president Eduard Shevardnadze. According to Tbilisi press reports last week, Pirtskhalaishvili unsuccessfully urged the cancellation of the large-scale military parade that was held on Georgia’s independence day, May 26. He was said to have objected to the parade’s costs and its possible irritating effects on Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In Moscow, "informed sources" on Russia’s General Staff described Pirtskhalaishvili as "friendly to Russia" and insinuated that he had resigned in protest over alleged Georgian plans to introduce troops in the Gali district, controlled by Abkhaz forces and Russian "peacekeepers." (Interfax, Itar-Tass, June 4)
In a coincidental development, Nadibaidze and U.S. State Department official George Colt yesterday discussed in Tbilisi the participation of a Georgian military unit in an upcoming exercise in the U.S. as well as Shevardnadze’s planned visit to Washington.
Cossack Deployment Proceeds on Russia-Kazakstan Border.