Georgia’s government has claimed that a Russian-backed military ‘coup’ is under way in the ex-Soviet state.
The Caucasus was again thrown into crisis after soldiers in at least one military base outside the capital, Tbilisi, were in open rebellion, defence ministry officials said.
But the government of Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president, said it had uncovered and thwarted the bulk of the insurrection before it had begun.
At least one former senior officer in the Georgian forces was arrested, while two more were on the run. Officials said that all three men were involved in a Russian conspiracy to overthrow the government and claimed they had received money from Moscow.
“The interior ministry is investigating information that an armed uprising was being prepared in several armed units,” said Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for the Georgian interior ministry.
“Former top officials were involved. This was directed from Russia.”
A Georgian government source told the Daily Telegraph that the coup plotters had been under surveillance for the past two months. The leader of the insurrection had been involved in a 2001 mutiny against the government of Eduard Shevardnadze, Mr Saakashvili’s predecessor, the source said.