TBILISI, April 27 (Itar-Tass) - Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili does not rule out that “under the previous authorities militants may have been trained in the country’s territory.”
He shared his suspicions in an interview on the Rustavi-2 television channel on Friday evening, as he mentioned an investigation of the August 2012 security sweep in the Lopota gorge.
Ivanishvili said that “the ombudsman expressed his opinion as to what, according to his sources, took place before and during the special operation in Lopota gorge.”
“I shall refrain from making my own conclusions for now. The investigation will be over soon, and we shall learn many interesting things, possibly, shocking things. There is the suspicion the previous authorities were in contact with militants, but we shall have to wait for the investigation to be completed,” he said.
At the beginning of this month ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili said in his annual report that “the armed Chechens who were liquidated in the Lopota gorge had not entered Georgia from the North Caucasus, contrary to what was said then, but were invited by Interior Ministry officials to Georgia from Europe for training with the aim of being sent to Chechnya.”
The ombudsman said that 120 Chechens and other North Caucasus-born men had arrived in Georgia from Europe since March 2012, hoping for a chance to cross the border into Chechnya. All were undergoing training at bases near Tbilisi.
The course of instruction lasted for too long, “which caused their anger and they demanded a corridor should be opened for them towards the Dagestani section of the Georgian-Russian state border.”
The report said the Georgian Interior Ministry responded with refusal and demanded they should hand in their weapons. When the Chechens refused, the Georgian law enforcers launched an anti-terrorist operation. Seven Chechens and a number of Georgian law enforcers died, the ombudsman said.
Several former Georgian Interior Ministry officials dismissed the charges as absurd. In the meantime the Chief Prosecutor’s Office said it would look into the matter and make a decision to be officially announced later.