Georgia alleges it has foiled Russian-backed military coup attempt

May 5, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Georgia sent troops to a military base near the capital Tbilisi to quell a rebellion by troops in a tank battalion on Tuesday and accused Russia of financing a coup to disrupt month-long NATO exercises scheduled to start tomorrow.

About 500 troops at a military base outside the capital Tbilisi were involved in the rebellion Tuesday that was quickly brought under control, said Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili.

Georgian security forces have surrounded the base and are reportedly in talks with the mutineers to stand down.

Utiashvili said the suspected coup plot was organized by a former special forces commander, Georgy Gvaladze. Gvaladze and an army officer on active duty have been arrested, the spokesman said.  A Georgian government source told the Daily Telegraph that the coup plotters had been under surveillance for the past two months. The leader of the insurrection had been involved in a 2001 mutiny against the government of Eduard Shevardnadze, Mr Saakashvili’s predecessor, the source said.

Opposition leader and former Saakashvili ally Georgy Khaindrava said the reports of the planned coup were made up.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has been under pressure domestically since losing a brief war against neighboring Russia last August over the rebel regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with protests by opposition demonstrators demanding he resign.


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