A Failed Plot? Or A Careful Move?

by Joshua Foust on 9/6/2006 · 8 comments

Police in Tblisi are claiming to have broken up a plot meant to overthrow the government of President Mikhail Saakashvili. The interestingly named Temur Zhorzholiani, the leader of the Conservative- Monarchic Party, was among the 30 people arrested.

My big question: is this a real plot to overthrow the government? Or did Saakashvili, severely weakened by the Gazprom scandal this past winter, try to clean house a bit?


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 7 comments }

Nathan September 6, 2006 at 7:55 pm

Looks like you’re missing the link for the first part there, and I was actually interested in which story you linked. This, along with a story on Turkmen carpets, is something I would have posted on were I not busy getting ready for my trip.

But anyhow… I think it’s interesting how RFE/RL frames it one way while Mosnews does it differently. At least as far as headlines are concerned, it looks like RFE/RL is skeptical about the plot. I’m ever-so-slightly inclined to agree with the skepticism. I have a hard time taking Saakashvili’s government at face value regardless of my support for it.

Joshua Foust September 6, 2006 at 8:03 pm

I fixed the link to the story I had linked (forgot a quote in the anchor tag!)—it was the same MosNews story you linked to. And I’m glad you share my, and REF/RL’s, skepticism.

The Turkmen carpets thing is interesting, as is a piece in the CS Monitor about a deadline of sorts for what the government deems “Islamic militants.” Maybe I’ll put together another post about those.

Nathan September 6, 2006 at 9:12 pm

According to Kommersant, Georgia alleges a Russian hand in the plot.

“The coup was allegedly supposed to take place in autumn. And Russia allotted money for it. That is the reason indicated on the orders issued by judges for searches and arrests.”

I find more plausible that Russia was simply supporting the political party. Russian political stupidity occasionally knows no bounds, but I have to think they would stay well away from directly supporting a coup in any way that would leave behind a paper trail.

Andy September 6, 2006 at 11:44 pm

Saying that they were plotting a coup is much more palatable to Saakashvili’s international supporters than saying that he was simply rounding up a troublesome bunch of political opponents.

As you can guess, my reaction to this story was somewhat sceptical…

(By the way – Nathan – what happened to trackbacks on registan? Did you get deluged with spam?)

Levan September 7, 2006 at 4:34 am

I would not call that rounding or “housecleaning” of Saakashvilis political oponents, because they did not plan to participate in local government elections and they really agitated about revolutionary way of changing government… so you can’t call them “normal” opposition and I don’t think that this would spread on any other political parties.

Joshua Foust September 7, 2006 at 5:55 am

Nathan, remember the U.S. is accused of participating in all manner of coups and overthrows… not least of which in Georgia, where we funded opposition groups to throw out Shevarnadze. Russia doing the same isn’t outrageous necessarily, but it doesn’t mean they’re not looking to topple a pro-Washington leader in the Caucasus.

Levan September 7, 2006 at 7:31 am

I am afraid of another thing: that in georgia so called “war” party which includes some key figures in georgian government are preparing for an opperation either in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, because of that they are suppressing potential troublemakers in that operation period…

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