Guest Writings
 
  
4/2/05

Caspian on the Cusp? Puzzling reports of death of Georgia PM by Edward Teague

 

NOTICEABLE COOPERATION Robert Kocharyan has today received the delegation headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Lujkov. President expressed satisfaction with the Armenian-Russian cooperation. Moscow Mayor said that he was impressed by the constructive changes made in Yerevan. During the meeting the parts discussed the potential of increasing export-import by running the huge Armenian centre of wholesale trade, which will be built in Moscow. Threat of Instability Continues in Georgia
By Foreign News Services Published: December 11th 2004

It has been announced today that Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Jvaniya’s died from gas poisoning yesterday (February 3) in what is reported (puzzlingly) to “be a failure of the ministers’ offices.”

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said that he takes full responsibility and demanded that cabinet members continue their work. Although there are continuing effects of this sudden death, observers warn of spreading chaos if stability cannot be achieved after the “soft revolution.”

Gleb Pavlovski, President, the Fund of Effective Policy based in Moscow noted that despite the “rose revolution” in Georgia, domestic instability did not prevail in the country and said this instability might spread over the entire Caucasus region. According to Pavlovski, Georgia should clarify the cause of death of the prime minister with “all the details” as soon as possible, otherwise it could damage both internal and external support. Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili “This is a tragic accident… It was a gas poisoning,” he said. Mr Zhvania’s body was found at 4.30 a.m. (0130 GMT) when his guards, worried that he was not answering his mobile phone, broke down the door of the friend’s apartment, said Merabishvili. The friend, a middle-ranking official, also died. There was no evidence of foul play, forensic experts said. Tests showed Mr Zhvania’s blood contained fatal levels of a substance called carboxihaemoglobin, said Justice Ministry official Levan Samkharauli.

“That means that the cause of death was carbon monoxide gas,” he said. A post mortem report is expected today. Mr Zhvania was said to be seen as a moderating influence on Mr Saakashvili, a 37-year-old US-trained lawyer who is prone to emotional outbursts and provoking confrontation.

The funeral will be on Sunday in the Roam Catholic Cathedral. There has been little comment in the West and none publicly in the US. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said they were saddened by Mr Zhvania’s death. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose relations with Georgia’s leadership have often been fraught, sent his condolences.

Most recently Jvaniya was meeting Amoco BP sealing deals over funds for social development … TBILISI – British oil major BP is pledging millions of dollars to Georgia as part of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, Prime Minister Zurab Jvania and the company said Monday December 11th. The pipeline, which is due to become operational next year, is to carry a million barrels of oil a day to Turkey.

The BTC pipeline, which will take oil from Azerbaijan”s side of the Caspian Sea across the Caucasus to the Mediterranean, by-passing Russia, is being built by a Amoco – BP-led consortium.

The project has sparked protests over environmental concerns, including the fact that it is being built in an earthquake-prone area. “We are quite satisfied that BP had studied all our demands,” Jvania said the day after visiting the controversial portion of the project in the southwestern region of Borjomi with BP representatives, including the head of BP-Azerbaijan, David Woodward.

“This portion of the construction particularly troubles us. A natural reserve is located here and we have done everything so that BP provides all the possible guarantees to preserve the ecology of this area,” the prime minister said.

“BP is ready to add 10 million dollars to the current budget aimed at guaranteeing the security of the pipeline,” he said.

Amoco BP said in a statement that $6 Mn worth of aid would be provided for security – notably including the delivery of vehicles for the local law enforcement forces – and an additional sum of $1Mn for “maintenance support” for the life of the pipeline.

For more info on the velvet / rose rev
24/11/03 Georgia, Velvet Underground in Overdrive by Edward Teague

 
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