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Reshuffle in Interior Ministry's Top Brass
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Jul.'12 / 23:14

New Interior Minister, Bacho Akhalaia, has three new deputies with three others, who served as deputies to Vano Merabishvili during the latter’s tenure as Interior Minister, retaining their posts.

Number of deputies has been increased from previous five to six.

Eka Zguladze, Shalva Janashvili and Giorgi Lortkipanidze remain on their posts of Deputy Interior Minister. Zguladze remains the First Deputy Interior Minister. The only deputy who has been replaced is Amiran Meskheli.

Shota Khizanishvili, who during Merabishvili’s tenure on interior minister’s post served as chief of the administration, was promoted as deputy interior minister.

Two other new deputies are Nodar Kharshiladze and Nika Dzimtseishvili – both of them were Akhalia’s deputies when he was Defense Minister.

As deputy minister, Dzimtseishvili will also be a new head of border police, replacing on this post Zaza Gogava.

Dzimtseishvili has once already served in the Interior Ministry when he was deputy head of the ministry’s administration in 2006-2007; he then served as head of the internal investigations unit at the Ministry of Justice for two years before joining MoD in 2009.

Kharshiladze, who graduated the Turkish police academy in Ankara, has spent most of his career in the state service with MoD, starting as an intern in 2002 and becoming First Deputy Defense Minister when Bacho Akhalaia became head of MoD in 2009. In his capacity of deputy defense minister Kharshiladze, who was described in one leaked U.S. embassy cable in late 2009 as “likely the most intelligent official” in the MoD, was in charge of defense policy and planning, as well as international relations and NATO integration issues. It is not yet clear who will replace Kharshiladze as First Deputy Defense Minister.

So far the only confirmed appointment as new Deputy Defense Minister is Data Akhalaia, who is brother of Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia. Although the Defense Ministry has confirmed this appointment, it has not yet reported which areas Data Akhalaia will supervise. Data Akhalaia led the Department of Constitutional Security (DCS) at the Interior Ministry. He was nominally suspended from this post in 2006 following a scandal involving murder of Sandro Girgvliani, but was then restored on this position. He quit the post after his brother Bacho Akhalaia became the new Interior Minister as a result of recent cabinet reshuffle this month.

In other changes, head of special operative department (SOD); head of counter-intelligence department and head of internal investigations unit have been replaced with new ones and new heads of Tbilisi and five out of nine regional police departments appointed.

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