Ministry of Internal Affairs
On dawn July 26th, famous Georgian journalist, author and host of news program of an independent TV channel “Rustavi 2” Giorgi Sanaia was murdered. His body was found in his apartment on July 26 evening. Versions of murder might be numerous. Law enforcers are elaborating all possible versions, but avoid disclosing any details yet.
On the same day, President Shevardnadze instructed Prosecutor General Gia Meparishvili, Internal Affairs’ Minister Kakha Targamadze and State Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze to personally investigate the murder. The Investigative Service of the Prosecutor General, under his direct supervision, has initiated an investigation case.
After the initial examination of the crime scene, additional expertise has become necessary. Law enforcers could not protect the accident’s place from gathered people and therefore investigation has been seriously hindered. After additional examination, forensic experts recovered a bullet, by which Giorgi Sanaia was shot. It has been proved, that the victim was shot from behind, while he was standing and thus the version of suicide was excluded. Investigators do not disclose any further details.
Experts of the Federal Investigation Bureau of the United States of America will be assisting Georgian specialists in investigation of the case. During the meeting of President Shevardnadze and Charge d’Affaires of the United States Philip Ramler on July 27th, it has been agreed, that agents of FBI Ankara (Turkey) office would be dispatched to Georgia with this purpose.
Structural changes have been started in Akhemta Region’s police because of difficult crime situation in Pankisi valley. Newly appointed head of Akhmeta’s police Gocha Nazghaidze started fulfilling his duties on July 23rd. On July 25th he met chairmen of gamgeoba (administration) of 7 villages of Pankisi valley. New police chief says, that Kist population (ethnic Chechens, historically residing in Georgia) are interested in restoring of order in the valley, but criminals of various ethnicity (Georgians, Chechens) are worsening the situations. Nazghaidze is strongly against advancement of Internal Army units into the valley, presuming that this would increase a tension in the region.
Fate of the kidnapped persons that are presumably detained in Pankisi valley is still unknown. According to official sources, two Spaniard businessmen, famous soccer player’s brother and Lebanese businessman are among those kidnapped persons. In fact there might be more people hijacked, whose names are not disclosed to ensure security of the hostages.
New police authorities of Akhmeta region possess contradictious information on location of Spaniard businessmen and therefore they are unable to confirm that these two are being detained in the valley. However, head of the group of armed volunteers from the local population Luka Ramazashvili says that businessmen definitely are being held by the criminals in the mountains of the valley. Two businessmen from Spain were kidnapped on November 30 last year.
On July 23 President Shevardnadze issues a special decree on the situation in the valley, under which he has ordered Ministries of Internal Affairs and State Security and the Office of the Prosecutor General to investigate crime cases in the valley and give special interest to the kidnapped persons’ cases.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses” keep suffering discrimination from law enforcers and religious group of Basil Mkalavishvili (a former priest, expelled from Georgian Orthodox Church).
On July 25th, Jehovah’s Witnesses addressed the Parliament with the letter, in which they asked for help. The letter says, that during last one and a half years, Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered from more than 80 attacks, most of which happened with support of governmental employees, including policemen. The Witnesses have submitted more than 400 complaints to relevant structures, however no reactions have been made so far.
On March 30, 2001, the Parliament adopted a decree on Religious Intolerance and Denounce of Violence. However, attacks on religious minorities keep happening. Participation of law enforcing structures in these attacks is very alarming.
Ministry of Finances
Mission of IMF has virtually ended an optimistic agitation campaign of the Georgian Government on recovery from the economic crisis, when the Fund demanded sequester of the budget form year 2001. This demand has been made during the meeting of the Government’s ‘economic team’, President Shevardnadze and IMF on July 25th. IMF will not issue 12 million USD trench to Georgia unless the sequester is implemented.
As early as in June 2001, Finance Minister has been strongly stating that the sequester would not be necessary at all. Sequester might not be implemented indeed, if it would not be approved by the Parliament. It might be rather difficult for the Minister of Finances to convince the Majority in the necessity of the sequester. Both, the ruling party and the Opposition are against the sequester. However, necessity of reduction of spending part of the budget is very real. During the Government’s Meeting on July 25th, (before meeting IMF mission) Tax Incomes Minister Mikheil Machavariani stated that the sequester would be necessary in income deficit exceeds 10%. “Nowadays, as of results of the first 6 months of the year, the deficit is only 6,5% and therefore the sequester is not planned”, said Minister.
It is also remarkable, that May and June have been relatively successful in mobilizing the incomes. Parameters for these months satisfied IMF as well. However, this was not enough for the Fund. Looks like IMF has rather pessimistic expectations regarding the fulfillment of the budget in the next 6 months. Furthermore, opinion that privatization of Georgian telecommunication system would be impossible, is getting bigger (the Government expects 100 million Laris from the privatization process). If such prognosis would be real, then the budget definitely would not be fulfilled.
Ministry of Justice
Attestations of the Governmental employees are in process. Last week the Ministry of Justice evaluated qualification of its employees. On July 22nd, employees of the Department of Registration of the Civil Acts of the Ministry have passed the examinations. These examinees have already attended one-month preparation course at the training center of the Ministry.
Tests included topics, such family law, international private law, and immigration and human rights issues. Up to 40 people have taken the exams.
Abovementioned training center prepares and trains lawyers, notaries, and employees of penitential institutions and organs of registration of the civil acts.
On July 26th, district court postponed for two months complaint of the political organization “Mkhedrioni” against the Ministry of Justice. On March 2001, “Mkhedrioni” appealed to the court because of statement of the Minister of Justice Mikheil Saakashvili. The Minister has stated, that it is inadmissible to register “Mkhedrioni” because it is a criminal organization.
Ministry of Defense
Secretary of Defense of the United States Donald Ramsfield will pay an official visit to Georgia. Georgian Defense Ministry gives very high importance to this visit. As Deputy Defense Minister Gela Bezhuashvili says, such an event is of political importance to the small country, as Georgia is.
The visit would be dedicated to the presentation of “Helicopter Contract”, under which the United States will donate to the Ministry of Defense of Georgia ten UH-1H “Iroquois” helicopters. The US side will also bear expenses for preparation of 32 pilots for these machines. Total cost of the project is 9,5 million USD.
Delegation of the Ministry of Defense visited People’s Republic of China last week. On July 26th Chief of General Staff John Pirtskhalaishvili hold negotiations with Chinese Defense Minister in Beijing. Chinese Defense Minister thanked the guests for Georgia’s support to China in Taiwan issues and mentioned that the military cooperation between the two states is deepening.
Last year Defense Minister David Tevzadze visited China as well.
Last week, a group of armed volunteers, which has been formed in reply to frequent kidnappings in Kakheti region, expressed desire to join the structure of the Ministry of Defense. Chief of the group Luka Ramazashvili pledges that his followers can protect the state border adjacent to Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia (where Pankisi valley is).
Defense Ministry does not make any comments on this matter and says, that the Ministry does not possess any information on group’s desire to join the Ministry’s structure.
It is remarkable, that volunteers’ group of local population of Kodori valley (only region of Abkhazia under the jurisdiction of the central government) has become subordinate to the Defense Ministry.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On July 27th, one-day working meeting between the heads of the state delegations of Georgia and Russia, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili and Vice – Premier Ilja Klebanov has been held in Moscow. The meeting was dedicated to the process of fulfillment of the provisions of Joint Georgian – Russian Declaration of OSCE Istanbul Summit, including the issue of timely liquidation of Russian military base in Gudauta (Abkhazia). According to the joint statement, this base had to be liquidated before July 1st, 2001.
The sides could not reach any significant decisions. They only have agreed that the consultations on the military issues would be continued on experts’ level.
Bilateral political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been held on July 22-26 in Teheran. Deputy Foreign minister Shota Dogonadze, who has been invited to Iran by his colleague, represented the Georgian side.
Aim if the visit was to further expand relations, exchange the experience and strengthen regional and international cooperation of the two countries. During the meeting with Foreign Minister Qemal Kharazi, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister thanked the Iran side for supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity at all levels. The Iranian counterpart tackled the importance of closer links between the Black sea and Persian Gulf regions. He touched the issues of regional security as well.
Next round of political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Turkey have been held on July 26-27. Deputy Foreign Minister headed the Turkish delegation.
Guests met Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili, First Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Burduli and Deputy Foreign Minister David Aptsiauri. The sides discussed issues of regional cooperation, defense and security, cooperation at the international organizations.
Ministry of State Security
On July 24th, the Ministry of State Security launched investigation of case of joint stock venture “Chiaturmanganum”. President Shevardnadze has given such instruction to State Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze after the report of Governor of Imereti Region Temur Shashiashvili on July 18th.
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 the enterprise.