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Shevardnadze Dismisses Cabinet Amid Political Crisis - 2001-11-01


Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has dismissed his entire cabinet in a political crisis that erupted following a government raid on the country's main private television news station.

A spokesman in the presidential press office in Tbilisi confirmed to VOA that Mr. Shevardnadze had sacked his cabinet. The move came only hours after the president himself had threatened to resign, if parliament fired his interior minister and public prosecutor.

The political turmoil erupted after interior ministry troops raided the offices of Rustavi-2 TV on Tuesday, as part of what the government said was an investigation of tax evasion.

The raid brought thousands out into the streets in protest. Staff of the station and liberal members of parliament denounced the raid as an attack on freedom of the press.

On Wednesday Mr. Shevardnadze issued repeated assurances that he had ordered an investigation into the raid.

Rustavi-2's management insists the company's financial affairs are in order, and charged that the raid was a political move. The station, which went on the air in 1994, has a reputation for criticizing corruption and other abuses by government officials. It has been a frequent critic of Mr. Shevardnadze, in particular for his management of the economy and his handling of the conflict with separatist Abkhazia.

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