Statement By Georgian President On Rebel Commander Speaks Of Cynicism

Abundant cynicism remains the Georgian president's instrument, said Mikhail Margelov, a member of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, in his interview with RIA Novosti. Mr. Margelov was commenting on the statement by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who said that Ruslan Gelayev, a leader of Chechen separatists, is not a bandit. According to Mr. Margelov, if Mr. Shevardnadze has no clear evidence that this Chechen terrorist is in fact a rebel, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office can provide him with such evidence. Mr. Shevardnadze, Mr. Margelov said, would not even need to come to Moscow, as the Russian Prosecutor General's Office could deliver this information to him wherever he were. Mr. Margelov stressed that, on the one hand, Mr. Shevardnadze has admitted the fact that there are Chechen rebels in Georgia's territory. On the other hand, he is trying to separate himself from their activities. The parliamentarian believes that it is "symptomatic" that Mr. Shevardnadze has come out with these statements before the summit of the leaders of the U.S. and Russia, members of the anti-terrorist coalition. Mr. Shevardnadze had to do this, as he does not want to be an outsider in the world anti-terrorist movement. At the same time, according to Mr. Margelov, recent developments in Georgia, in particular, the possible appointment of Adzharia's President Aslan Abashidze Georgian prime minister, inspire hopes that Mr. Shevardnadze recognises Georgia as a multinational state. At the next meeting of the Federation Council Committees on International Affairs, Security, and Defence on November 13, parliamentarians will undoubtedly address the situation in Georgia, Mr. Margelov stated, "as everything that is going on there involves Russia's national interests."

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