'Georgia has an army and it does not need any partisans,' Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced yesterday in Zugdidi. A special operation had been carried out that morning to disarm and arrest so-called Georgian partisans.
Mr Saakashvili also stressed that he will not allow the creation of a second 'Mkhedrioni.' He warned partisans to give up their weapons and 'if any of them wants to be involved in politics, let them join a political party,' he said.
'Mkhedrioni' was an illegal armed band which was led by the late Djaba Ioseliani, a member of the Georgian State Council, who was alleged to have made an assassination attempt on Eduard Shevardnadze. 'Mkhedrioni' took an active part in the Georgian-Abkhazian war. It was also infamous for attacking and robbing the local population in the Zugdidi region. 'We will do everything possible to reestablish the peace,' Mr Saakashvili emphasized.
According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, the operation to arrest partisans is still continuing. The Interior Ministry claimed there may have been a leak about the operation and some of the partisans have escaped and hidden on Abkhazian territory.
The Zugdidi region is on the border with Abkhazia.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko had a telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan