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MIA identifies Explosion Suspects

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, December 8
On December 7 the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA) identified 8 suspects of organising, carrying out and participating in the series of explosions that took place in Georgia from September to November 2010. As a result of the investigation, on December 4, 2010 the following people were arrested: Gogita Arkania, the main perpetrator, a former military officer; Joni Abuladze and Mariam Nikolava, accomplices, stored and transported explosive materials; Gocha Khurtsilava, accomplice, driver; Goderdzi Arkania and Lela Khurtsilava, accomplices; while two suspects - Merab Kolbaia, nicknamed Kochoia, organiser and perpetrator and Mukhran Tskhadaia, organiser and perpetrator (wanted by the police since 2003 for kidnapping) currently in hiding in Russian occupied Gali district, are still wanted by the police.

According to information released by MIA the investigation found that Gogita Arkania and fugitive Merab Kolbaia were responsible for the two explosions on November 28, 2010 – one on Javakhishvili St. No 88 in Tbilisi, near the Labour Party headquarters, in which local resident Nino Gordeziani was killed and the second near a supermarket on Noneshvili St. No 13 in Mukhiani district of Tbilisi. The pair is also held responsible for the explosion on September 22 near the US Embassy in Tbilisi, and on October 21 two explosions near Tbilisi Central Railway Station as well as the failed attempt on October 2 near the railway bridge in Tchaladidi village of Khobi district, Samegrelo region. MIA searched the house of Joni Abuladze, Arkania and Kolbaia’s accomplice and found 13 explosive devices, including 9 cans filled with hexogen, out of which 4 had nails inside and 1 contained bullets as well. In total, 10 kilograms of hexogen were discovered

Some of the bombs, according to the Minister of Interior Affairs Vano Merabishvili, were aimed against particular individuals but the country has managed to overcome the serious threat.

Encouraging all the engaged sides to cooperate on the issue Eka Zghuladze, deputy Minister of Internal Affairs named Russian Colonel Evgeni (Zhenia) Borisov as the organiser and sponsor of the explosions in Georgia and hoped that the Russian Federal Services would also be constructive on the issue. Borisov, the former Deputy Head of the southern headquarters of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Urta in Zugdidi region from March until October, 2008, now leads the Russian occupation army. And according to Zghuladze had been using the special telephone number registered at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to keep in contact with the members of the criminal group. “This union has been proved in many ways that Borisov was informed of the situation before and after each explosion either by phone or personally,” Zghuladze stated.

In his video testimony to MIA, the main perpetrator Gogita Arkania, resident of Gali (Abkhazia) retold the police how his friend Merab Kolbaia, nicknamed Kochoia (also a Gali resident) organised a meeting with the Russian Colonel where Arkania was ordered to carry out the series of terrorist attacks or else his family members would be harmed. Explaining they have no information about the detention of criminals, de-facto Ministry of Internal Affairs of Sokhumi regime hesitated to comment on the issue. Denying their involvement in the explosions, the Sokhumi authorities stressed it was up to the Georgian MIA to investigate the case. “We are fighting against crime ourselves. We have no information about the situation at the border which is controlled by border-guards responsible for checking the territory,” was stated at de-facto MIA.

Ruling United National Movement members as well as most opposition representatives are unanimous on the issue. Thanking the MIA staff for the successful investigation of the crimes, President Saakashvili stressed the serious threat of acts of terrorism, which the country has managed to overcome. He encouraged the law enforcement structures to intensify their activities. Talking about the challenges of an efficient security system in Georgia, majority MP Akaki Minashvili praised the professionalism of the Georgian special task groups protecting the interests of the Government and society in our country. “There are few countries in the world where such wide-scale operations revealing crimes are being held,” another MP Goka Gabashvili said highlighting the danger posed by the Russian occupiers for the whole country.

Petre Mamradze from the Movement for a Fair Georgia explained that all former members of the peacekeeping services (referring to Borisov) used to remain on the staff until their service expired. “Thus it is quite possible that Borisov would have really been following the Russian special task groups’ orders. I am very satisfied that MIA managed to reveal the criminal group in such a short period of time and I hope that the Georgian law enforcers will provide the international community with the reliable documentation proving Russia’s engagement in the terrorist acts,” he stated.

But the Labour Party, which was among the victims of the explosions, continues blaming the Government of Georgia of organising the terrorist act against their party. “In the capital of the country where all the telephone calls are being totally controlled [by the Government] it would have been impossible for the diverse organisations to act without their support,” Giorgi Gugava political secretary of the party told the media.

Conflict analyst Mamuka Areshidze spoke of the well-known signature of the Russian special task groups which have been constantly forcing Gali residents to carry out their plans using blackmail. “If we analyse the above mentioned terrorist acts the accomplices were either ill-prepared or this was just a series of warnings,” he said, adding that the explosion near the Labour Party headquarters was had been a well-planned case as it was absolutely clear that the party members would by all means accuse the Georgian Government of the act. Talking on the ideological diverse centre at village Ilori in Ochamchire region, Areshidze stressed how the “Russian ideological machine” aimed at removing Gali citizens from the Georgian ethnos is gradually achieving its goals.

Another analyst Irakli Sesiashvili spoke about the responsibility of the Russian side towards the US in the attempt to blow up the US Embassy in Georgia. Welcoming MIA’s identification of the organisers and participants of the crimes, Sesiashvili doubted the “diplomatic scandal” between Russia and US just after the completion of the investigation. Russia, according to the analyst, will have to explain the reasons for organising the explosion near the embassy. Analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili mentioned that the explosions controlled by Borisov highlight how unprotected the state borders in Georgia are nowadays. The Georgian Government, according to Khutsishvili, has been inconsistent in its activities because, despite the break in diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia, some kind of cooperation should certainly have continued.