MIA Releases Extracts from Officers’ Testimonies
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 May.'09 / 20:38

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) released on May 6 extracts from video footage showing testimonies of eight officers from the Mukhrovani-based military unit.

The video recording also includes extracts from testimonies of three non-active officers, who served in the army and in the security structures years ago.

In the video footage five out of eight officers from the Mukhrovani-based military unit say that the battalion commander, Col. Mamuka Gorgiashvili, told the servicemen in the morning of May 5 that he was “declaring disobedience to the authorities.” All five officers - Lieutenant Khvicha Sadagashvili; Vice-Colonel Zaza Okropiridze; Major Giorgi Samadashvili;  Lieutenant Kakhaber Gogichaishvili and Lieutenant Kakhaber Jolbordi – repeated it in their recorded testimonies.

It, however, was not clear from the footage whether the battalion commander told the servicemen reasons behind “declaring disobedience.” It has become a reason for some opposition politicians to demand from the Interior Ministry to make the officers’ testimonies public in full.

“The footage cuts and jumps to other frame when officers are saying that the battalion commander was telling the servicemen that he declared disobedience to the authorities,” Davit Berdzenishvili of the opposition Republican Party, part of Alliance for Georgia, told protesters outside the Parliament.

“So it remains unclear what kind of orders the battalion commander was disobeying… We need to know what these officers are saying. Why the video is edited and cut in very same moment when the officers are speaking about disobedience; we should know why the commander was declaring disobedience, so the authorities should show this part of the officers’ recorded testimonies in full; we should know exactly whether it was really a mutiny or it was an imitations of mutiny,” he added.

In the testimonies by other military officers from the same footage they say having seen several armed “unknown persons” on the territory of the military unit, who were not servicemen of the battalion. One officer says that he had seen five or six unknown persons on the territory of the unit.

One officer, Maj. Mardoni Chikhvanaia says that several weeks ago Maj. Levan Amiridze, commander of rangers’ battalion, who is now at large, told him that “some people in the opposition” offered him to join the protest rally in Tbilisi with dozens of his solders. “This morning, at about 5am Levan Amiridze called me and told me to position the battalion for defensive and not to allow anyone on the military unit’s territory,” he said.

Levan Amiridze is now wanted by the Georgian law enforcement agencies.

The video footage, available on the Interior Ministry’s website, also includes extracts from testimony of Gia Gvaladze, who was commander of the Defense Ministry’s special task force in 1990s. He says that he had met recently with former military official, Koba Kobaladze, who is now also arrested. “Kobaladze told me that it was over with these authorities and that ‘Saakashvili will go soon, but who will come in the power no one knows; that’s should be us who will come into power’,” Gvaladze said.

The Interior Ministry said on May 5, that Gvaladze was among those non-active military officers, who were plotting the mutiny. Koba Otanadze, a former military official, was among them, according to the Interior Ministry, who is currently at large.

In the same footage Vazha Khutsishvili, a non-active military who served in the army years ago, says that he was told by Koba Otanadze on May 4 to come to the Mukhrovani base on May 5. He then says that at Mukhrovani base he was told that disobedience was declared to the authorities “in order to forcefully overthraw them.”

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