In parallel statements publicized yesterday, Georgia’s Prosecutor-General Jamlet Babilashvili and Chief Military Prosecutor Badri Bitsadze offered a deal to the fugitive leaders of the abortive October 19 putsch. The statements urged Lieutenant-Colonel Akaki Eliava and his accomplices to turn themselves in and give full information about the background of the putsch, in return for lenient treatment and a possible outright pardon by President Eduard Shevardnadze. Meanwhile nearly forty minor suspects, most of them civilians, have been detained (Itar-Tass, November 4).
Contrasting to the harsh tone of previous official statements, this offer seems to reflect the authorities’ failure to apprehend the chief executors of the putsch and to obtain clear evidence about the forces behind it. On November 2, Eliava and other Zviadists virtually flaunted their self-assurance by publishing an “ultimatum” to Shevardnadze in the Tbilisi press (see the Monitor, November 3). The government is probably keen for a respite ahead of the November 15 local elections, which are being treated as a major test of political strength by all concerned.