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18 Nov, 2007 00:54

Alleged Azeri hand in Georgian protest crackdown (rian.ru)

According to RIA Novosti news agency, a telephone conversation, posted on the website of the Georgian Conservative Party, reportedly just as major anti-government protests raged through the capital Tbilisi on November 7, reveals evidence the government wa

In the recording released by the Georgian Conservative Party, RIA Novosti reports, Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, appeals to his Azeri counterpart, Ramil Usubov for help.

The conversation allegedly occurred on November 7 and lasted for about three minutes.    

It reveals Azerbaijan was fully prepared to send crowd-control devices such as tear-gas grenades to Georgia to help control the unrest.

The riots that struck Georgia on November 7 were the worst since the 2003 Rose Revolution that brought Mikhail Saakashvili to power.  

A snap presidential election has been called for January 5, 2008.

The transcript of the phone conversation follows below:

Usubov: Hello?

Merabishvili: Hello?

Usubov: Yes, yes?

Merabishvili:  Is this Ramil Idrisovich?

Usubov: Yes, yes. Is that Vano Sergeevich?

Merabishvili: Yes. How are you, Ramil Idrisovich?

Usubov: Hello, my dear friend, hello. Everything is fine. We don’t know how things are with you.

Merabishvili: We have a difficult situation here. Today we shut down an opposition TV station, and declared a state of emergency in the city.

Usubov: You did the right thing; it should have been done a long time ago, a long time ago. You did the right thing…

Merabishvili: Ramil, I have a favour to ask. It turns out that we are running out of gas, batons, protective outfits. If you could help us…

Usubov: What do you need? The President told me to do everything possible to help you. So let me know what you need. Rubber bullets, do you need rubber bullets?

Merabishvili: We do need rubber bullets.

Usubov: Ok, I am writing this down: rubber bullets, bullets, what else?

Merabishvili: Some kind of gas grenades or bullets.

Usubov: We stun grenades and gas grenades. Do you want both?

Merabishvili: Gas, gas, we need the gas ones.

Usubov: I am not sure what they are all called, but there are also the stun ones, they make a lot of noise.

Merabishvili: Ramil, you know better than I do what we need.

Usubov: Got it, I am leaving for work right now. I’ll make the necessary arrangements and call you in an hour. You don’t need to send a vehicle. We will load up everything in our transport and bring it to the border with Kazakhstan. Your vehicle will cross our border, load up and go back.

Merabishvili: Thank you very much.  So you’ll call me back?

Usubov: Yes, yes. Since Mr. President told me to help you in any way I can.  I will call you in an hour and let you know what we can send and how much.  I’ll call you back.

Merabishvili: Thank you very much, Ramil, thank you so, so much.

Usubov: Have a good day.

To read the article referring to this conversation, please follow the link (in Russian).

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