Law enforcement agencies in breakaway Abkhazia have foiled “a large scale terrorist act” after discovering four mines in the Gali district, Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported on January 11.
Three anti-tank mines TM-62 and one directional anti-personnel mine MON-50, according to this report, were found outside the village of Gagida by the law enforcement agents, who are investigating murder of a local police officer, Vitali Rodonaia, who was shot in the same village on January 9. Abkhaz law enforcement agencies said they were considering Georgia’s link as one of the possible versions behind the murder of Rodonaia, who was an ethnic Georgian.
Two weeks ago a high-profile double murder was committed outside the town of Gali; one of the two men shot on the night from December 28 to December 29 was a retired Abkhaz colonel, Valmer Butba, described by local sources as “an influential figure” in Gali district. Butba, a former commander of Abkhaz first leader Vladislav Ardzinba’s security guard, who in the past also commanded the Abkhaz anti-terrorist unit, was detained in 2009 for possession of arms; at the time opponents of then Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh, claimed that Butba was arrested because of his support to then opposition presidential candidate and his relative Beslan Butba.
Last year the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) announced that a car explosion in Georgia Black Sea town of Batumi in 2010 in which MIA’s official was killed was carried out by perpetrators, recruited for the Abkhaz-based Russian military intelligence officers by Valmer Butba.
The Abkhaz prosecutor’s office announced on January 10, that a Georgian citizen from neighboring Zugdidi district was wanted in connection to Butba’s murder, claiming that the suspect was acting upon the Georgian special services’ order.
Officials in Tbilisi said that Butba’s murder was a result of “settling of scores between local rival criminal gangs”. Some analysts in Tbilisi suggested, that Butba’s murder could have been a result of the new Abkhaz leadership’s declared policy of cracking down on criminal gangs.