ZVIADIST ABDUCTORS RELEASE REMAINING HOSTAGES, OBTAIN POLITICAL TALKS WITH GEORGIA’S LEADERSHIP.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 39

The Zviadist militants released yesterday the last two hostages — a Czech and a Uruguayan — of the four UN officers whom they had abducted on February 19 near Zugdidi in Mingrelia. Some fifteen abductors gave themselves up to Georgian authorities. The group’s leader, Gocha Esebua, and one or several of his associates fled or were allowed to disappear as part of the bargain with the authorities. The militants also gave up the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia. They had not insisted upon this in the first place though it seemed designed to package their real objective: bringing about political "negotiations" between the Georgian leadership and supporters of the late president Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

As part of the bargain which they forced on Tbilisi, a Zviadist group resident in Moscow and led by former vice-chairman of the Georgian parliament Nucho Burchuladze flew yesterday to Tbilisi and held a first session of talks with President Eduard Shevardnadze. Details about the agenda and format of the talks thus far are not yet public. Burchuladze and several associates, who had been wanted in Georgia on criminal charges stemming from the 1992-93 armed conflict, were given safe conducts for the talks in Tbilisi. (International agencies, February 25)

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