Georgian President: Svanetia gives shelter to criminals

In his traditional interview to the national radio Monday, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has admitted that borderline Svanetia (a mountainous area bordering on Russia's Kabardino-Balkaria) has become refuge for criminals gangs.

In his opinion, an anti-crime campaign will largely depend on the assistance of local population. "The frontier guards here are fully manned by locals and a mountain battalion "Svaneti" is being manned after the same pattern," said Shevardnadze.

"Whatever they say, we shall bring order to this picturesque place in Georgia and make it safe for tourists," said the president.

Following a National Security Council session, the decision was taken last Friday to hold pinpoint strikes against organised crime in Svanetia. The president's office reports that no large-scale operation or the deployment of additional police forces in Svanetia are planned.

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