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Tapes, Arrests, Arms Charges in Lead up to April Rallies
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Mar.'09 / 16:55

For the third consecutive day, the Georgian authorities are releasing piece-by-piece video and audio tapes implicating some opposition activists on arms charges less than three weeks before the planned April 9 protest rallies.

The first episode from the series of covertly recorded tapes involved four persons affiliated with former parliamentary chairperson Nino Burjanadze’s opposition party and one person not directly linked with the Burjanadze’s party. The second episode from the series, released on March 24, involves two activists from a low-profile Movement for Salvation of Georgia.

The third package was unveiled on March 25 and involves three separate video tapes, which the Interior Ministry claims, implicate Nino Burjanadze’s party activists – Zurab Avaliani, Davit Gogrochadze and Roin Bugashvili in criminal actions related with “plans to use arm” and “provoking civil war.”

The Georgian nationwide television stations are repeatedly airing the tapes in their news bulletins in recent days.

Total of nine activists from her party were arrested; no word has been said by the investigation so far about remaining two activists - Nugzar Gogrichidze and Vakhtang Tushmalashvili. 

A tactic of the official investigation, as well as of politicians from the ruling party speaking on the matter in recent days, involves not making any direct link between the series of arrests and any political party. Police said that its undercover operation aimed at revealing cases of illegal arms purchases and the investigation does not claim any political conspiracy behind these cases, at least for now.

Some opposition politicians, meanwhile, suggest that through this tactic the authorities are trying to discredit the opposition parties, or at least the group of those parties, which are organizers of the planned April 9 protest rally to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation. Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement–United Georgia (DMUG) is among those parties.

Some opposition politicians are tend to make parallels to the events of November, 2007, when the Interior Ministry released audio and video tapes through which the authorities claimed that opposition behind the street protest at that time was linked with the Kremlin. The tapes were released on November 7, 2007 when the riot police broke up anti-government rallies in Tbilisi.

Lawmakers from the ruling party, however, are recalling events of early 1990s in Georgia, when late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia was ousted in armed coup.

“There still are people in Georgia, who even after 18 years are trying to repeat the scenario of the early nineties,” MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, the leader of parliamentary majority, said on March 24.

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