(Deux actes de terrorisme en Géorgie et la politique russe dans le Caucase)
03 / 1998
Two terrorist acts conducted in February in Georgia caused considerable tension both in Georgia and the entire Caucasian region. The experts supposed that recently conducted terrorist acts were directed at causing explosive situation in the region. All this had negative impact on integration of Caucasus into the world economic and political process and would have strengthened Russia’s influence on Georgia. In it is turn; this would have facilitated reanimation of recently functioning "Caucasian volcano". President of Georgia Shevardnadze valued the last event as follows: "Unfortunately, Georgia has its ill-wishers both inside and outside. I think in this event there happened to be a concentration of outside forces with inside opposition hostile forces. The main task of the February 9 terrorist act was liquidation of the President to be followed by chaos and disorder" (The newspaper "Sakartwelos Respublica", 27/02). The terrorist act was investigated in 4 days. Five suspects were arrested. The terrorists’ demands were as follows:
to withdraw of the Russian armed forces from the Georgian territory (including the CIS peacekeeping contingent of Russian armed units deployed at the administrative border of Abkhazia - Georgia); To set free the suspects detained in connection of February 9 terrorist act against Shevardnadze; To start negotiations between present and legitimate power. On terrorists’ demands, they were represented in the negotiations by the former Vice Speaker of Gamsakhurdia’s Parliament, Burchuladze. The first round of talks was held in Moscow with the Georgian Ambassador to Russia Lordkipanidze. The terrorists demanded to extend the negotiations and to transfer them to Tbilisi. They demanded the participation of the UN representatives. On February 25, a meeting was held between the Georgian President Shevardnadze and Burchuladze. The course of negotiations and political results has not been known yet. The press expressed supposition that the negotiations aimed at satisfying the demands of the terrorists and it could have no real political results. The hostages were set free on February 25. Georgian security Minister said that the terrorists’ leader Esebua and his two supporters "escaped" (the group is also accused of participation in February 9 terrorist act). According to information agency "Tbilisi" the Georgian government let Esebua go to save the international observers. This was negotiated between Georgian Security Minister and terrorists’ leader on February 23. The other terrorists were given government guarantees of security and generous attitude. (The Newspaper "Meridiani 44 ", 27/02). As one of the terrorists said, Esebua left for Chechnya by special airplane (information agency "Prime News"27/02). Concerning the Jikhaskari events, the Georgian President announced at the February 26 governmental session: "I don’t regret I have met with the representatives of one wing of the ex-President’s supporters. An attitude is being formed in Georgia that no one is punished for having different opinion. We know that 12 young men (terrorists)voluntarily came to the police. If it becomes evident they have not committed any serious crime, the authorities will be generous to them" (the newspaper "Sakartwelos Respublika", 27/02). The analysts consider that the terrorist acts both in Georgia and in other regions of Transcaucausus were planned in Russia. At emergency parliamentary session of February 10, Chairman Zhvania named Russia as an organizer of the terrorist act. President Shevardnadze expressed the same opinion at the February 10 governmental session. The majority of mass media mentions that the assassination attempt against President Shevardnadze on February 9 should be considered within regional context. The analysts mention that in a week’s time three important events were conducted in three Transcaucasian countries: assassination attempt against Azeri President Aliev on February 2 when a bomb was found in the sport complex where Aliev was to deliver his speech; resignation of Armenian President Ter-Petrosian who was forcibly pressed by the opposition. The Russian press values the statehood building conception adopted by Ter-Petrosian last autumn as catastrophe of Russian policy in Transcaucausus. In addition, February 9 terrorist act against Georgian President Shevardnadze. The main reason of Russia’s dissatisfaction seems to be a transregional oil pipeline. The end of 1998 plans full functioning of the pipeline. It’s route starts in Azerbaijan, passes Georgia, and ends in Mediterranean Sea port of Jeihan (Turkey). It should be mentioned here that the wish to use this pipeline was expressed by Kazakhstan for its "Tengiz" oil deposits. There also exists a Russian variant of oil transportation involving Baku-Novorosiisk (Russian Black Sea port)section. The analysts consider that Baku-Jeihan direction is more favorable for the West than the "Russian transit".
All this witnesses Russia’s irritation with the prospects of oil transportation avoiding Russia. Therefore, Russia tries to cause destabilization in the region through terrorist acts. In addition, Russia is well aware of the prospects of losing its political control over Caucasian region. It should be mentioned from this viewpoint the Russian policy tactics on the example of February 9 terrorist act in Georgia. Appearance of Jangaliev’s (a citizen of Russia of Chechen nationality)dead body among the terrorists was directed at causing tension in the relations between Georgia and Chechnya. The situation became more tense after the field commander (not controlled by the Chechen authorities)Salman Raduev’s statement. He announced that the terrorists had been trained in Chechnya and took the responsibility for the terrorist act of February 9. Nevertheless, the events followed different course. The Georgian and Chechen official authorities unanimously announced that to reach its strategic goals at this stage. In addition, it is expected that the Russian politicians will not stop and will try new attempts for destabilization as the term for oil pipeline approaches. The attempts of destabilization will be provoked in several sections of South Caucasus. Adjara Autonomous Republic, South Ossetia self-declared Republic, Javakheti region are named in Georgia to be such regions along with further aggravation of situation in Abkhazia and so on.
Articles et dossiers
Sakartvelos Respublica, 1998/27/02
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