Former Georgian Minister accuses Saakashvili of war mongering

Thursday, August 21, 2008

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The above file photo (2004) shows a sniper taking aim at Ossetian rebels in South Ossetia to allow the Georgian Army forces to move forward Photograph: Jonathan Alpeyrie

Georgij Chaindrawa, a former minister of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's government, who was in charge of dealing with the conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia until 2006, has accused Saakashvili of undemocratic behaviour and war mongering.

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Georgij Chaindrawa accuses the United States administration of spreading the false idea that Saakashvili's government is democratic and turning a blind eye on his totalitarian behaviour.

According to Chaindrawa, Saakashvili's government bears little resemblance to a democracy. Rather, Chaindrawa claims that the government of Georgia is an authoritarian regime that suppresses civil liberties and the freedom of the press, similar to the Russian government policies of Vladimir Putin. Chaindrawa states that Saakashvili tried to close down an independent TV station (Imelda TV), declared a state of emergency in 2007 against mass protests of the opposition, and committed election fraud. Chaindrawa also asserts the politics of Saakashvili's government as a cause of the current war with Russia. He says: "He wanted a victory parade in Zchinwali and got Russian troops marching toward Tbilisi".

When asked why he was dismissed from the government in 2006, Chaindrawa stated that he tried to avoid military adventures in the conflict with South Ossetia and that he was highly critical of Saakashvili's failed 2004 attempt to conquer Zchinwali.

Map of Georgia

On the question of what the West should do, Chaindrawa replies that the West should support the Georgian population, its civil society, and its institutions rather than the Saakashvili government. He continues to say that Georgia needs politicians who are pursuing reconciliation and compromise rather than confrontation.

In an article in The Washington Times, Tsotne Bakuria, a former member of the Georgian parliament and now a senior fellow at Global International Strategic Group in the U.S., formulates a similarly harsh criticism of Shakasvili's government. She calls its government a "reign of terror" and says that the country has no independent judiciary and that Saakashvili uses trumped-up criminal charges (alleged money laundering) to silence and suppress members of the opposition. She describes the leader of the opposition Shalva Natelashvili being forced to ask NATO secretary Javier Solana for asylum for his wife and two daughters after they had received death threats. Natelashvili himself was threatened with arrest by a government member and is facing money laundering charges, as are other members of the opposition.