Georgia opposition planned to destabilise state: ministry

27th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Georgia released covert footage on Friday alleging the opposition had planned to deploy thousands of paramilitaries to destabilise President Mikheil Saakashvili's regime during recent protests.

The Rustavi-2 television channel aired footage released by the interior ministry of members of the opposition party of Nino Burjanadze, including her husband Badri Bitsadze discussing the plan.

The broadcast came after riot police broke up an opposition rally led by Burjanadze early Thursday in bloody clashes in which a policeman and a former officer were killed by a car allegedly carrying an opposition organiser which sped away.

In the video filmed in a restaurant, people identified as opposition supporters say they have recruited a force of 3,782 men to destabilise the ruling regime.

A man believed to be Bitsadze then adds that the "guys have made Molotovs (cocktails)."

A force of "3,000 experienced and organized warriors who are backed by the mass crowd would be impossible to overcome," another opposition supporter, identified as Irakli Batiashvili, says.

The channel also aired an apparent confession from retired major-general Gia Uchava, who features in the video, where he outlines a plan to storm the television centre and city hall and fire at police.

"A group armed with firearms would enter the protest area if necessary and fire on police," Uchave says in the government-released tape.

The video was aired a day after the same channel played an audio recording of a woman identified as Burjanadze discussing the possibility of a "civil war" with her son, in what the opposition leader called a smear campaign against her.

Burjanadze -- a former Parliament speaker and one-time Saakashvili ally -- told AFP the footage was part of a "smear campaign aimed at discrediting her."

"One can speak about something hypothetically, but we did nothing illegal," she said.

Several thousand people rallied in the centre of the city for five days, vowing to stop a showpiece military parade to mark the ex-Soviet state's Independence Day.

After they rejected the government's offer to move the protest to an alternative location, riot police broke up the protest using tear gas and rubber bullets.

© 2011 AFP

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