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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgian Lawmaker Slams Russia Over Attack




TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's second most powerful politician accused Russia on Wednesday of harboring "international terrorists" suspected of plotting to kill President Eduard Shevardnadze.


Parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvaniya said the problem was hampering efforts to build trust between the two former Soviet states divided, among other things, over Georgian overtures to the West and the route of a pipeline planned to take oil from the Caspian Sea to Western markets.


"The Russian authorities are responsible for making clear there is no room for international terrorists, for people who are looking for such violent methods to change elected governments," Zhvaniya said in an interview. "It is impossible to speak about trust and confidence when one party is trying to protect terrorists."


Russia has denied playing any role in two attacks on Shevardnadze, in 1995 and last month, and has criticized "emotional statements" on the issue by Georgia.


The Georgian authorities have said they do not believe the top echelons of President Boris Yeltsin's leadership had anything to do with the attacks on Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister.


But Zhvaniya said official Russian structures were helping to hide former security minister Igor Giorgadze, wanted over the 1995 bomb attack which Shevardnadze escaped with cuts and bruises.


There were also indications Guram Absandze, a top official under late deposed president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was being protected in Russia, he said.


Georgian officials say Absandze may have helped plan an attempt to kill Shevardnadze on Feb. 9. The 70-year-old president, who in the Soviet era played a role in ending the Cold War, escaped unhurt after his motorcade was showered with bullets and grenades.


Zhvaniya said Georgian authorities had long been seeking Absandze's extradition, but had been told he had been granted Russian citizenship which precluded his being handed over.