The Georgian Interior Ministry said on Monday that on May 26 police arrested a group of 24 armed men, which allegedly was in coordination with some of the leaders of the recent street protests with a goal “to stage armed provocations on the territory of Georgia.”
The armed group, the Interior Ministry said, was detained close to Kintsvisi, a village in Shida Kartli region, about 110 kilometers from the capital Tbilisi.
The Interior Ministry said that the armed group was established by Temur Khachishvili, Georgia’s interior minister in early 1990s, who coordinated the group’s actions from Moscow, where he currently lives. Khachishvili, who apart of interior minister’s position also held various senior posts in the security structures in early 1990s, also was one of the leading figures of Mkhedrioni paramilitary group, disbanded in 1995 after a terrorist attack against then Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze.
The Interior Ministry also released video testimonies by several members of the alleged armed group, as well as intercepts of phone conversations between the group members and Khachishvili.
In video testimonies released by the Interior Ministry several of arrested men tell about the alleged plan, according to which Badri Bitsadze and his group should have incited violence, including through breaking into the public broadcaster’s office. The armed group based in Kintsvisi, according to those testimonies, should have come into play after those unrests incited by protesters in Tbilisi.
Also on Monday, the Interior Ministry said that difference between its list of arrested protesters and the list released by the Public Defender on May 28 is caused by the fact that the latter’s list includes not only those protesters who were arrested during the dispersal of the protest outside the Parliament on May 26, but also those activists who were arrested before the break up of the rally, plus those 24 individuals who were arrested in Kintsvisi. The police list of arrested protesters includes 105 individuals and the list released by the Public Defender include 162 persons.