One of the Chechen warlords - Ruslan Gelayev who was seriously wounded this October when his band was being liquidated on the Klukhor Pass in Abkhazia - is having medical treatment at a Georgian hospital, an informed source close to Russia's Defence Ministry has told RIA Novosti. Gelayev's other surviving bandits numbering about 150 have returned from Abkhazia to Svanetia (Georgia), where they are currently billeted in several villages. According to reliable information, 50 Chechen and Georgian militants were killed and about 100 wounded during the operation to abolish Gelayev's group in Abkhazia. The thorough preparation and organisation of a provocative raid by Gelayev's band from Georgia's Pankisi gorge to Abkhazia with a view to breaking through into Russia is evidence that it was carried out with the knowledge and support of the top Georgian leadership, including President Eduard Shevardnadze," the source told RIA Novosti. This was indirectly acknowledged by Shevardnadze himself, who said in an interview with Rustavi-2 television that Gelayev is "a normal-thinking and educated man" and perhaps "is not the terrorist he is cracked to be". The source denied claims by members of the Georgian leadership that they know nothing about the whereabouts in Georgia of Chechen terrorists. "All seriously wounded Chechen militants and foreign mercenaries are promptly operated on when necessary at Georgia's medical establishments from where they are transported by air and other transport to Azerbaijan, Turkey and other Muslim countries for further rehabilitation," the source said. He indicated that it was only through lengthy negotiations with the Georgian authorities that the Russian side managed to ban armed Chechen militants from freely strolling in Tbilisi's central streets.
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