July 28, 1996 in Nation/World

Security Chief Says Russians Killed American As Cia Spy Convicted Soldier Has Recanted

Lynn Berry Associated Press
 

The security chief of the former Soviet republic of Georgia has accused Russian secret services of ordering the 1993 killing of an American believed to be a CIA agent, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Fred Woodruff was shot in the head while traveling with three Georgians outside Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. The U.S. government ruled it “a random act of violence.”

Georgian security minister Shota Kviraya accused his predecessor, Igor Giorgadze, of arranging the murder on Moscow’s orders, according to the Segodnya newspaper.

Giorgadze has been charged in connection with a car bomb attack against President Eduard Shevardnadze last August. He has fled Georgia and is said to be in Moscow.

A Georgian court in 1994 convicted a 21-year-old former soldier in Woodruff’s killing and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. Anzor Sharmaidze initially admitted he shot Woodruff, but later retracted the confession, saying it was made under torture.

Woodruff, of Herndon, Va., was killed Aug. 8, 1993, by a single bullet fired from an AK-47 assault rifle. He was riding in a jeep driven by Shevardnadze’s personal security chief, Col. Eldar Gogoladze, who was promptly suspended.

Kviraya said Gogoladze and a Georgian businessman working as a Russian agent also were in on the plot, the newspaper reported.

Woodruff officially was identified as a regional affairs officer posted in the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. U.S. newspapers reported he was the CIA station chief in Georgia, and CIA Director James Woolsey Jr. flew to Tbilisi from Moscow to bring home his body.

The U.S. government has tried to help Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister who is perceived as a pro-Western leader committed to democratic reforms in a volatile region.

The exposure of CIA spy Aldrich Ames raised questions about Woodruff’s death. Ames reportedly visited Georgia in July 1993, the month before Woodruff was killed.

But an FBI investigation indicated “that this attack was a random act of violence and was not politically motivated,” the State Department said in March 1994.


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