Georgia accuses Russia of backing attempted coup
Officials in Tbilisi say a revolt at an Army base was part of an attempt to disrupt the government and had support from Russia.
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Georgian officials have described a revolt that broke out at an Army base near the capital of Tbilisi Tuesday as part of a military coup that has Russian backing.
According to the Georgian Defense Ministry, the commanders of the Mukhrovani Army base have been dismissed and the soldiers confined to barracks. But the situation is yet to be brought under control as only one arrest has been made.
The revolt comes a day before NATO military exercises were scheduled to begin in Georgia. Around 1,000 soldiers from 19 member states and partners are to practice "crisis response" at the Vaziani Army base, which lies east of Tbilisi, 44 miles from Russian troop positions in South Ossetia. Russia has complained that the NATO exercises are "provocative" in the wake of the brief war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in August 2008. Russia has stationed about 10,000 troops in the breakaway provinces.
A tank battalion mutinied Tuesday at a Georgian military base near the capital and several hundred army personnel were refusing to follow orders, Defense Minister David Sikharulidze said....
Sikharulidze said he had been blocked from entering the military base in Mukhrovani, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Tbilisi, the capital.
Among the mutineers were civilians who had no relation to the battalion, he said.
The Georgian government claims that the mutiny was aimed at disrupting the NATO exercises and overthrowing the government, reports Civil Georgia, an online news service run by the UN Association of Georgia.
The Georgian Interior Ministry said earlier that "a full-scale" military mutiny was planned in the Georgian army by some former military officials, who were "in coordination with Russia."
"As it seems this mutiny was coordinated with Russia and aimed at minimum thwarting NATO military exercises and maximum organizing full-scale military mutiny in the country," Shota Utiashvili, head of the information and analytical department of the Interior Ministry, said on May 5.
The interior ministry told the BBC that the plotters wanted to destabilise Georgia and assassinate President Saakashvili.
Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said one of the suspected coup leaders - former special forces commander Georgy Gvaladze - was arrested. But an alleged co-plotter - former chief of special forces Koba Otanadze - was still at large.
The spokesman said the government had been aware of the plot for two months. The rebellion appeared to be "co-ordinated with Russia", the interior ministry said.