Competent sources in Moscow have voiced deep regret over the position taken by Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze, who is trying to cover up Chechen terrorists, especially one of their warlords - Ruslan Gelayev. In an interview with Rustavi-2 television on Wednesday, the Georgian leader said that "Gelayev is a normal-thinking and educated man who favours Georgia". The competent sources noted in a RIA Novosti interview that "this favour is the payment for shelter, which Chechen terrorists have found in Georgia, including in the Pankisi gorge". The sources believe that Shevardnadze is apparently suffering from memory lapses. "Only historical sclerosis can explain the selective forgetfulness displayed before the world and above all Georgia's citizens by Shevardnadze. He must surely know that many present Chechen warlords, including Gelayev, had their 'baptism of fire' in Abkhazia, early in the 90s, fighting against Georgian units," the sources note. They find "strange indeed," to say the least, those parts of Shevardnadze's interview that claim that the Georgian side "lacks proof of who of these (Gelayev's) men are real terrorists". Maybe Gelayev "is not the bandit he is cracked to be," the Georgian leader said. The sources recalled that in September 2002 Gelayev was put on a federal and international wanted list. He is implicated under two articles - an attempt on the life of a law enforcement officer and organisation of an illegal armed unit and fighting in it. "If Gelayev with such a track record is not a bandit for Eduard Shevardnadze, then perhaps Osama bin Laden is for him just a 'religious activist," the Russian competent sources indicate.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign