Weekly Review of Ministries’ Activities. July 14-23, 2001

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Frequent kidnappings and incapability of law enforcers to fight this crime forced local population of Kakheti (Eastern Georgia) to start solving this problem by themselves.

On July 13th residents of Laliskuri village (Telavi region, Kakheti) took in hostage 6 Kist (ethnic Chechens, historically residing in Geogria) and one Chechen man with demand to release Mamuka Arabuli, a serviceman of State Guard Service, who has been kidnapped day before and other kidnapped persons as well. Armed volunteers from nearby villages started joining Laliskuri dwellers and in a few days formidable armed militia group has been formed. Luka Ramazashvili, a person who has been negotiating with Chechens in Pankisi to release all kidnapped persons, was leading the group.

These negotiations have brought certain results and on July 17th Mamuka Arabuli and 80 years old David Bazierashvili have been released from the custody in Pankisi valley. Georgians freed one Kist man in return. Remaining 5 Kists and one Chechen have been released on July 19th.

As we see, spontaneous formation of illegal armed group has been followed by release of the hostages. However, it is impossible to solve the problem of frequent kidnappings in this manner. The fact such as formation of Ramazashvili’s group reveals inactiveness of law enforcing structures. It is impossible to demand any responsibility from the group, however they have illegally detained 7 innocent persons. Today, when the population does not trust law enforcers anymore, events like armed militia activity has become quite acceptable for everyone.

It shows total incapacity of official authorities when the population decides to take arms to establish justice by themselves. But there might be another explanation: law enforcers themselves might be engaged in illegal drug smuggling and human kidnappings and therefore it should be very suitable for them to maintain disorder in Pankisi valley. Such accusations in address of law enforcers are becoming more and more frequent from politicians. Chairman of the Committee of Defense and Security of the Parliament Giorgi Baramidze stated, that he possesses a list of policemen who cooperate with criminals in Pankisi valley. He has promised to submit the list to authorities concerned. Justice Minister Mikheil Saakashvili and Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights of the Parliament Elene Tevdoradze have made the same accusations. So it is quite probable that
Presidet’s favorite – Internal Affairs Minister Kakha Targamadze – might become a victim of Pankisi valley situation and loose his post.

Last week’s events in the valley have given to certain politicians, in particular to Giorgi Baramidze, Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee the chance to make an initiative. Baramidze suggested giving to militia groups (e.g. Ramazashvili group) an official status. Internal Affairs Minister Kakha Targamadze, Speaker of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania and other politicians went strictly against of this idea. Only suggestion by Targamadze to Ramazashvili’s group was a proposal to join the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

On July 20th, Internal Affairs Minister Kakha Targamadze hold a press conference on present situation in the valley. Minister confirmed, that two businessmen from Spain, who were kidnapped in November 2000, are in Pankisi. Law enforcers even known the kidnappers, however, they are not arrested yet.

As Minister has stated, brother of soccer team “Milan” player Kakha Kaladze is not expected to be in the valley. Last time kidnappers demanded 300 000 USD ransom for Levan Kapadze’s freedom.

Targamadze is going to change whole staff of Police district of Akhmeta region and Pankisi sub-district in connection of the events of the last week. However, Tamaz Tamazishvili, head of Kakheti Regional Police Office and Jumber Mgebrishvili, head of Akhmeta Police Office, will remain on their posts. This is rather strange decision. Usually high level authorities and officials should be primarily responsible on any fault or mistake of their structures. But in this case, high-level officers stay unquestioned. There are no guarantees that after staff changes in the police offices crime situation would improve.

Minister also announced, that several suspects have been arrested in connection with the kidnappings. He stated, that the goal of latest kidnaps was to destabilize valley and force intrusion of Internal Army into the valley. This would definitely bring hazardous results to the whole country. Targamadze obviously has been pointing towards Russian secret services with these words. It should be said, that lately blaming of foreign powers has become a useful tool for the Governmental structures to avoid direct responsibility.

Ministry of Finances

Last week, mission of the international Monetary Fund visited Georgia. Chief of the mission David Owen met State Minister, Finance Minister and other members of the ‘Economic team’ of the Government. Owen stated, that IMF is satisfied with the results of budget fulfillment form May and June. Maintenance of such tendencies is a basic condition for IMF to renew the program of “Poverty Recovery and Economic Growth” in the country.

Main subjects of the meetings have been the issues of 200 million USD debt of Georgian energy sector and anti-corruption campaign. Owen mentioned, that more effective measures should be employed in anti-corruption campaign.

Georgia has received 24 million out of 141 million USD under the 3-years-long program of “Poverty Recovery and Economic Growth”. 3 months ago IMF has suspended the program due to incompletion of budget parameters by the Georgian side.

Even though there have been positive tendencies in budget fulfillment for the last 2 months, IMF will evaluate results for 6 months and in this case neither the Government nor the Finance Ministry have any achievements to be proud of. According to the information of the Treasury Service of the Ministry of Finances, budget deficit for the first half of the year 2001 reached 59 million 400 thousand GeL and therefore renewal of the program by IMF still remains under the question.

Reception of 52,5 million USD trench from IMF in October depends on the parameters of budget fulfillment. This sum is included in year 2001 budget. Therefore, if the parameters set by IMF would not be matched and Georgia fails to get the trench in October, the country might face a fiscal catastrophe.

Last week the issue of un-transferred Adjarian funds (6,7 million GeL) to the central budget has once again become an active subject. This issue has become a reason of confrontation between the ministries of Defense and Finances (see “Defense Ministry” for complete coverage).

Ministry of Defense

Last week has been marked with the confrontation between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Finances. The Finance Ministry refused to finance military units in Batumi (Adjarian Autonomous Republic) garrison and obliged the Adjarian government to pay servicemen’s wages since the Autonomous Republic does not wish to transfer 6,7 million GeL to the central budget. On July 17th, military servicemen of the garrison received their salaries from the local budget.

In this regard Defense Minister David Tevzadze made a following statement at the Governmen’s Meeting on July 18th: “The Treasury and the Ministry of Finances refused to finance these units without any motivation or preliminary consultations with us [Defense Ministry]. They cut our funds and left us on the local (Adjarian Autonomous Republic’s) budget. The salaries were distributed from this budget. Such decision exceeds the framework of fiscal policy and enters the sphere of military-political system of the country; therefore it must have been the competence of the National Security Council to make such a decision. This fact is an attempt to involve militaries into internal political disputes. In order to avoid such facts in the future, I strongly demand from all authorities, including the Ministry of Finances to not to make deliberate decisions without our [Defense Ministry’s] consent. As far as yesterday’s decision might be followed by unexpected results, I demand to define the extent of political liability of the people concerned”.

President Shevardnadze supported Defense Minister and stated that it is inadmissible to finance armed units from local budgets. He instructed the Ministry of Finances to correct this error immediately.

Last week Georgian military fleet received two troop-carrier vessels from Bulgaria. Biggest part of Georgian navy composes of the vessels, presented by the partner states. Ceremony of transfer of the vessels has been held on July 16th. Defense Minister David Tevzadze and Commander of Bulgarian Navy Base of Burgas attended the ceremony.

These two “Vidra” type troop carriers are built in Bulgaria and can carry up to 200 infantry. The Bulgarian side presented to Georgia 6 thousand uniforms, 200 portable radio stations, 33 communication vehicles, 200 kilometers of cable and 300 telephone sets as well.

On July 19th delegation of the Defense Ministry started a visit to the People’s Republic of China. Chief of the General Staff John Pirtskhalaishvili, Head of the Special Task Team of the Minister of Defense Tamaz Dumbadze and Deputy Defense Minister Nugzar Kevkhishvili are in the delegation.

During the visit, the sides will discuss the issues of cooperation between the two countries in military field. The sides will also tackle the subject of joint production of military goods and training of Georgian officers in Chinese military academies.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On July 17th, preliminary bilateral consultations for the 8th Round of Georgian – Russian Negotiations on Military Issues have been held in Moscow. The experts discussed the issues of possible protection of certain objects at Gudauta (Abkhazia) military base. The Russian side requested to keep 300 o its troops in the base to protect military objects there.

The sides agreed, that if the issue of protection of the military objects at Gudauta base would be solved, units of CIS peacekeeping forces. 100 units (instead of 300, demanded by Russia) will guard the perimeter of the base, but will not enter its territory. Georgian Foreign Ministry considers such agreement positively.

If we take a closer look at this decision, we would see that it is not too positive for the Georgian side in fact. During the negotiations, Georgia demanded presence of international observers during the liquidation of the base to ensure transparency of the process. Georgia wishes keep the observes after the liquidation as well to make sure that the base would not be misused by those 100 troops. However, Russia is strictly against the transparency of the process and if sides agree to let the peacekeeping units protect the base, international observation of the withdrawal process could not be implemented.

CIS peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia compose of solely Russian army men. This means that, in any case Russians will remain at the base (even in limited number of 100 units). Even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia states, that these 100 units will not be entering the base and only will protect the perimeter, there is no mechanism to control these soldiers and ensure that they or Abkhazians will not use the base’s facilities for military purposes. Even Georgian Foreign Ministry admits that there will be no guarantees. Even worse, these are very peacekeepers that let the genocide of Georgian population by Abkhaz separatists in 1998 in Gali region happen (OSCE has recognized the fact of genocide).

Even though the Foreign Ministry considers decision reached in Moscow very positively,  in fact it would not bring anything positive to Georgia if implemented.

Last week the international society continued to demand from Russia to fulfill the terms of 1999 OSCE Istanbul Agreement and liquidate Gudauta military base. On July 11th EU made a demarche and once again confirmed that the Russian Federation violated the agreement and did not withdraw Gudauta base before July 1st.

Ministry of State Security

At the Government’s Meeting on July 18th, President Shevardnadze instructed Minister of State Security Vakhtang Kutateladze to investigate the situation in Zestafoni Ferrous Alloys Factory and joint stock Company “Chiaturmanganum”.

Governor of Imereti region Temur Shashiashvili briefed the Government’s members on the situation in joint stock company “Zestafoni Ferrous Alloys” and “Chiaturmanganum” (both enterprises are under the state management). Governor blamed Irakli Mgaloblishvili – ex-member of a monitoring board of “Chiaturmanganum”, presently a representative of “Channel International, Ltd”, which holds 50% in the monitoring board of “Sakgazi” and parliamentarian David Bezhuashvili (member of the ruling “Citizens’ Union” party, one of the founders of “Channel International Ltd”) for intended attempt of bankruptcy and takeover of these enterprises. Shashiashvili stated, that the ruling party stands behind David Bezhuashvili.

Security Minister Kutateladze has stated, that there are number of facts and details to be investigated, “but the persons and their activities at the companies that Mr. Shashiashvili has talked about, are true. Further details will be known during the investigation process”.



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