Siding with Protesters, Retired Georgian General Plans Self Defense Groups

TBILISI (Eurasianet)–Retired Georgian General Gia Karkarashvili has pledged to set up makeshift “civil defense committees” to rebuff attacks against protesters who rally against President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Ombudsman Sozar Subari and opposition protest organizers have claimed that the police have not tried to prevent or to investigate a series of nighttime attacks on opposition activists by unidentified assailants. The interior ministry has denied the claim.

Karkarashvili, a supporter of Irakli Alasania, leader of the Alliance for Georgia coalition, said on April 16 that he would begin to organize the “self-defense” groups on April 19, after Georgian Orthodox Easter, if police do not secure protestors’ safety within the next 24 hours.

Under his plan, 10 cars with so-called “Peace Corps” members and ombudsman office monitors would begin to patrol Tbilisi’s streets on April 21, the daily Rezonansi reported.

Karkarashvili commanded the Georgian National Guard during the 1992-1993 Abkhaz war and chairs a club of retired generals who took active part in the civil and separatist unrest of the early 1990s.

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