Givi Targamadze, an influential lawmaker from the ruling party, claimed that the failed Mukhrovani mutiny was sponsored by a Russia-based tycoon with links to Russian PM, Vladimir Putin.
MP Givi Targamadze, who chairs the parliamentary committee for defense and security, said while speaking at the Rustavi 2 TV’s weekly program, Position, late on May 22 that the goal of the plot was “to at least trigger disorders” in Georgia or “at maximum to pave the way for entry of the Russian occupation forces in Tbilisi.”
“I have been refraining from naming a person who has organized everything, unless this person himself announced that after this failed mutiny he could no longer wait and would run for presidency in the next elections – this is Mr. Ebralidze; and if there is someone who may think that in Today’s Russia it is possible to be a billionaire oligarch in St. Petersburg uncontrolled by the most famous St. Petersburgian, i.e. [Russia’s PM Vladimir] Putin, is very wrong,” MP Givi Targamadze said.
Alexander Ebralidze is a St. Petersburg-based tycoon, an ethnic Georgian originally from Batumi, who has been living in Russia for over thirty years already. This month he announced having ambition to become a president of Georgia. He made the announcement at an “assembly of peoples of Georgia” in Sochi. The announcement triggered protest of some of those participants of the event, who arrived in Sochi from Tbilisi; outspoken critics of the Georgian authorities were among those participants who walked out from the meeting hall after Ebralidze’s announcement. After announcing about his presidential ambitions, Ebralidze said: “I have been waiting for 20 years, but now I am giving up my modesty.”
He also said that starting from January, 2009 several meetings were held in “one of the CIS-member states”, which he did not specify, with participation of “some of the mutineers” with a purpose of plotting the mutiny.
“These meetings were held under the leadership of Tariel Oniani [Russia-based criminal authority] and Bondo Shalikiani,” MP Givi Targamadze said.
On May 18 President Saakashvili said that Bondo Shalikiani was among “active sponsors” of the ongoing protests in Georgia. Shalikiani, a former lawmaker and once a tycoon with assets in western Georgian region of Imereti, was arrested in early 2004 for alleged embezzlement, but was released after agreeing to hand over some of his assets to the authorities. He then left for Russia and resides there. On May 18, the Georgian weekly, Kviris Palitra, published an interview with Shalikiani in which he says: “I will spare no efforts to make him [Saakashvili] held responsible for everything he has done.”
A month before the launch of ongoing protests, Vano Merabishvili, the interior minister, said on March 6 that Tariel Oniani and some other former Georgian officials who fled the country after the Rose Revolution would be among sponsors of the Georgian opposition to help them organize protests.
“But at the same time I want to tell you that these people are not key figures who will finance the Georgian opposition or other provocations that may take place in Georgia; such sponsors will be more serious figures,” Merabishvili said on March 6.