Georgia says Russian spies 'ordered policeman's murder'

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Georgia on Tuesday accused Russian military intelligence operatives of organising the assassination of a regional police official.

Two Russians working for their army's foreign intelligence service paid two Georgians to kill the policeman with a car bomb in the Black Sea resort of Batumi in May 2010, a statement from the interior ministry alleged.

"The investigation has found incontrovertible evidence that Russian special services were behind this case," Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said in televised comments.

The Georgians were given explosives and paid $52,000 (37,000 euros) to carry out the deadly attack, the ministry said.

The two main suspects and two alleged accomplices were detained on suspicion of killing Dimitri Kordzadze, head of the interior ministry's Emergency Situations Management Department in the coastal region of Adjara.

One suspect committed suicide in prison after his arrest but the others will appear in court next month, the ministry said.

Political tensions have remained high between Georgia's pro-Western government and the Kremlin since they fought a brief war in 2008.

In recent months, Georgian police have detained a series of suspects alleged to have staged several explosions last year near targets including the US embassy and Tbilisi's main railway station, killing one person.

Police officials said that the Georgian gang had carried out its "terrorist campaign" under orders from a Russian colonel.

Unexploded bombs were also discovered last month outside a private television station in the capital.

After the first arrests in December, the Russian foreign ministry denied any involvement and described the blasts as "a show, staged by the authorities in Tbilisi".

© 2011 AFP

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