Court in Georgia’s Black Sea town of Batumi ordered on Monday pre-trial detention for two Georgian citizens and a Russian citizen from Chechnya, who were arrested on September 13 after a shooting incident in Batumi in which three people were wounded.
One of those injured in the incident was the Russian citizen Yusuf Lakayev, who, according to the Interior Ministry opened fire after the police approached him and his two Georgian companions to check his identification document. A policeman and a passer-by were also injured.
The Interior Ministry has confirmed that Lakayev, who is currently treated in the Batumi hospital, is likely the same person who is in the list of individuals, which, the Russian security agencies claim are suspected of having links with “extremism” or “terrorism”.
The February 5, 2013 decision by Russia’s operations headquarters responsible for providing security during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games on defining maritime borders of a special zone where “enhanced measures of security” should be applied during the Olympics, is enclosed with a list of 88 persons whom the Russian security agencies claim are “involved in extremist activity or terrorism”; one of the names in the list is Yusuf Lakayev with August 3, 1988 indicated as the date of birth.
“What I can say is that personal data indicated in identification document of a person arrested in Batumi coincides with those of a man, which is in that list. It is now up to the investigation to find out whether this is the same person or not,” Nino Giorgobiani, a spokesperson of the Georgian Interior Ministry, told Civil.ge on Monday.
Asked about the Batumi shooting incident and possible link of the case to Georgia’s declared readiness to cooperate with Russia over providing security to the Sochi Olympics, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Jalagania, told journalists on September 16 that Tbilisi’s proposal for cooperation over this issue “has not yet been responded” by Moscow.
“As far as this particular case is concerned, it is very good that the law enforcement agencies are vigilant no matter if Russia expresses or not its readiness for cooperation. It is a duty of all the relevant state institutions to ensure Georgia’s security,” Jalagania said.
Two Georgian citizens arrested together with Lakayev are Piruz Tsulukidze, Georgia’s Greco-Roman wrestling junior team member and his coach and religious mentor Temur Bakhuntaradze; before the Batumi shooting incident, the two have recently accused the Georgian law enforcement agencies of subjecting them to discrimination on religious grounds. Bakhuntaradze claimed that he was told by the Georgian security officers in Batumi that he was a follower of Wahhabism and should stop religious preaching among his wrestling student-athletes. The both have been charged with resisting police; they deny charges.