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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Press Points Fingers Over Shevardnadze Attempt

It is better to see once than to hear 100 times. The television reports from Tbilisi after yet another assassination attempt on [Georgian President] Eduard Shevardnadze should convince you of this.

The president's Mercedes, which was first in the motorcade, was caught in the cross-fire of 15 automatic rifles and anti-tank grenades. An authoritative expert from one of the Russian intelligence services reminded this correspondent that no one, as a rule, comes out alive after running into such ambushes, even in an armored car. He was extremely surprised by the low number of victims of the terrorist act -- two slain bodyguards and one terrorist.

It is worth noting that this terrorist brought with him a Russian passport for the operation. In general, the police have not experienced any shortage of written testimony. There was a particularly noteworthy signature on the wall [saying "We'll be back"]. The firing was very rapid, and anyone who wanted to practice his calligraphy under fire (the signature looks like it was written in a firm hand) would inevitably have been shot. It is logical to suppose that the autograph was left there earlier. But why then write "We'll be back"? Are we to understand that the fighters knew in advance that they would not be successful?

The investigation into the assassination attempt case had just begun when the guilty -- the Russian intelligence service -- had already practically been named. This was not the first time. ... In the '90s, the chief of the presidential bodyguard and "oppositionists" allegedly standing behind him -- former supporters of the president -- were accused. One can't help but notice that in the wake of every such misfortune, the regime of the almost permanent Georgian leader inevitably grows stronger.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Feb. 11

Russian Participation

The Georgian president said the attempt on his life was the work of international terrorists. He said the people who organized the attack were rather influential and aimed at destabilizing the country. Those in his immediate circle, however, have been less restrained and directly point their fingers at Moscow. According to information at the disposal of Georgian Speaker Zurab Zhvaniya, the terrorists' radio communications were conducted in Russian. "It is unlikely that such a military operation against the president of the country could have been prepared in Georgia," Zhvaniya said.

Georgia's military again protested against the Kremlin's refusal to hand over the former security service chief, Igor Giorgadze, to Tbilisi. Giorgadze is considered the main organizer of the first attempt to kill the Georgian president. Tbilisi has not ruled out the possibility that he may have been involved in the second attack.

The version about the Russian intelligence service's participation is indirectly corroborated by the sudden departure from Tbilisi several weeks ago of Giorgadze's relatives and his father, the local communist leader. They have all moved to Moscow. After the last attempt on Shevardnadze, Giorgadze fled Georgia on a Russian military aircraft. True, in that version the motive for the attempt is also unclear.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, Feb. 11

Chechen Connection

A Russian passport belonging to a certain Dzhangaliyev, a Khasavurt [Dagistan] native and Chechen by nationality, was discovered on the only terrorist killed. Chechen Foreign Minster Movladi Udugov commented, "I'm surprised he didn't have his residence documents with him." After suggesting that "a few more Chechens" may have participated in the attack, Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov said that as far back as November, Russia's Interior Ministry had warned its Georgian colleagues of plans for an attempt on Shevardnadze.

Almost immediately after the attempt, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev called his Georgian counterpart to offer any help he could. At an emergency session Tuesday, however, the Georgian parliament decided almost unanimously to send the military police to inspect Russian military bases. The deputies believe they are the only places where the saboteurs could be hiding.

Within minutes after the terrorist act, Azeri President Haidar Aliyev phoned Shevardnadze at his Krtsanissk residence. The two presidents quickly concluded that the attack had been organized by forces unhappy with the Caspian oil pipeline route through Georgian and Russian territory.

Kommersant Daily, Feb. 11