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Friday, September 08, 2006

Neo-Soviet Russia Attempts Coup D'etat in Georgia

The Moscow News reports that Russia has attempted, in the manner of the Bay of Pigs, to funnel support to Georgian coup plotters seeking to destabilize Georgia's elected government in order to avoid Georgia falling into the evil clutches of NATO and the European Union. In combination with the dire state of human rights in Russia as documented on La Russophobe this can only be viewed as a shocking escalation of Neo-Soviet behavior and naked imperialism. It is truly breathtaking hypocrisy for Russia to intervene in Georgian and Ukrainian politics while screaming to high heaven if any foreign country interferes with Russia in Chechnya. And it is truly horrifying to imagine that Russia is now so drunk on oil revenues that it is prepared to court disaster with such provocative behavior.

Nearly 30 people were arrested in Georgia on suspicion of plotting a coup against the government, officials said. They say those detained are supporters of Igor Giorgadze — the fugitive former head of the state security service. Lawyers for those arrested deny the coup accusations, saying the arrests amount to political persecution.

Giorgadze fled Georgia after being accused of trying to assassinate then President Eduard Shevardnadze in 1995 — a charge he denies. “They will be charged under Article 315 of the Georgian criminal code — plotting against the state and overthrowing the government,” Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told reporters.

Among those detained are officials of two opposition parties — the pro-Russian Justice Party and the Conservative Monarchists.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant wrote Thursday that Georgia has accused Moscow of backing the plotters. Vano Mirabishvili announced that an attempted coup financed by Russia had been prevented. The opposition says that a new political era has begun in Georgia as “the authorities try to hold on to power through repression alone.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Georgian security forces broke raided apartments of the leaders of Justice Party, Anti-Soros Movement and Conservative Monarchists Party across the country. Those parties make up the so-called Igor Giorgadze bloc. Police operations were also carried out at the homes of his relatives. After searches were conducted, 29 opposition leaders and activists were arrested. Searches of the opposition groups’ offices were conducted simultaneously and, according to official accounts, charter documents, computers, money and weapons were seized.

Georgia also accuses Moscow of backing separatists in Georgia’s breakaway provinces, while Russia has banned the import of certain Georgian goods.

RIA Novosti says that the problems are far from over:

TBILISI, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - A Georgian opposition party, Justice, called Thursday for a national disobedience campaign to topple the president and his government as 14 party activists were charged with preparing a coup.

The interior minister said Wednesday the country's law enforcement agencies had information that supporters of controversial former Georgian minister and security chief Igor Giorgadze were preparing to overthrow the government and making arrangements for Giorgadze's return from exile. In all, 29 people were detained in raids and 14 individuals who remained in custody Thursday were officially charged.

But Justice party representative Irina Sarishvili told a news conference that her party would seek to bring down President Mikheil Saakashvili, who himself came to power on the back of popular protests, and his government.

"We propose setting up a national disobedience movement and starting large-scale actions with only one demand: that the country's current leadership resigns," said Sarishvili, who runs the Igor Giorgadze Foundation in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.

Justice party leader Giorgadze himself is said to live in Russia after fleeing the country in 1995 when he was accused of organizing an assassination attempt on then-president Eduard Shevardnadze. He has denied the claims.

"If these authorities want revolution, they will get it," said Sarishvili, who also claimed Wednesday her office was being searched by security officers.

Georgian law enforcement agencies carried out an operation Wednesday to arrest supporters of Giorgadze, his Justice party and other public and political organizations, including the leader of the opposition Conservative Monarchist party, Teimuraz Zhorzholiani, and of the Anti-Soros political movement, Maya Nikoleishvili.

President Saakashvili told journalists in Poland, where he is on an official visit, that the alleged plotters would be dealt with harshly. "They will get what they deserve, and those who finance them can be sure of that," he said.

But Sarishvili rejected a statement by the Georgian Interior Ministry about an alleged conspiracy aiming at overthrowing the authorities at a party conference on May 4. "There was no conference and, of course, no plan to overthrow authorities," she said.

The detained activists have protested their innocence and have said their political work led to their arrest, which prompted Sarishvili to say the detentions looked like the start of a political repression campaign.

A senior Russian diplomat said Moscow, which has had tense relations with Tbilisi since the 2003 "rose revolution" brought Saakashvili to power, regarded the arrests as a domestic matter for Georgia.

"We regard yesterday's arrests of opposition representatives as the country's internal affair," Yury Popov, Russia's ambassador-at-large and co-chairman of the Joint Control Commission for Georgian-South Ossetian conflict resolution, told a news conference.

The diplomat also said it was unsurprising that some politicians in Georgia had accused Russia of financing the opposition's activities. "Georgia by habit blames Russia for all its troubles," Popov said.

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