Khaburzania and Narchemashvili – New Members of the President’s Team

On November 21 Khaburzania and Narchemashvili were appointed as the Minister of State Security and the Minister of Internal Affairs respectively. Both received 208 votes in the Parliament. None of other ministers had such support ever before.

Reform of the State Security Ministry is a prime goal in the action plan of the new minister. The final aim of the reforms is division of the Ministry into the departments (State Security Ministry consists of 4 divisions: Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Investigations and Analysis).

Koba Narchemashvili will also have to implement fundamental reforms in the Interior Ministry. He will face heavy ‘heritage’ of previous minister Kakha Targamadze in the Ministry.

Both ministers start their service with serious support of the Parliament. Before the new appointment Khaburzania has been serving as the Parliamentary Secretary of the President. He also has been a head of Service of Security Issues at the National Security Council as well.

Some years ago, before his appointment as a head of the Customs Department in 2000, Koba Narchemashvili was the Head of Service for Relations with the Law Enforcing Bodies of the National Security Council. Tensions between him and by then-Tex Revenue Minister Mikheil Machavariani were an outline of his service at the Customs Department. The department belongs to the Finance Ministry and Machavariani wanted his man to lead it, but the President has decided in different way (Head of the Customs Department is being appointed directly by the President).

Confrontation between Machavariani and Narchemashvili resulted in move of the latter into the post of Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. In 2001 he was promoted to General Major’s rank. It is remarkable that Narchemashvili has been receiving all promotion from the lieutenant to general earlier than usual.

There is one single fact missing from Narchemashvili’s official biography. In 1997 he has been Deputy Prosecutor-General, but for couple of hours though. That time Prosecutor-General Jamlet Babilashvili has already signed a decree on Narchemashvili’s appointment, when his staff looked up a limitation in the law on “Prosecutor’s Office” prohibiting person younger that 30 years to take the post of the Deputy. Narchemashvili was only 28 that time. He was a ‘protege of the First Deputy Prosecutor-General Rezo Kipiani. Kipiani is in the Parliaments now.

“The Parliament supported me. But in fact I think that they supported my program, not me personally. If we want to achieve anything, then the Police should change the way of working” – said Narchemashvili after the appointment. He counts on support of the international organizations in implementing the reforms. Reduction of the staff and changes in the staff system would be among the first actions of the new minister. “29 000 police officers are under the financing of the budget. I think that we should reduce the contingent”- stated Narchemashvili.

Two days earlier Narchemashvili’s appointment, fact of beating of Parliament member Gocha Jojua by (as Jojua says) General of the Police Soso Alavidze made it evident that the present system of the Police may not be kept any further. The fact that Narchemashvili is not regarded as a member of Kakha Targamadze’s team also played a positive role for his appointment. Narchemashvili is believed to be a ‘protege’ of Nugzar Sajaia, Secretary of the National Security Council.

Khaburzania’s successful career is linked with Sajaia as well. He has worked din the State Security Ministry for 5 years. Irakli Batiashvili, Head of Information and Intelligence Service, predecessor of present Security Ministry and ex-Security Minister Jemal Gakhokidze have contributed to Narchemashvili’s ascendance in 1992-97. In 1997 Gakhokidze offered Khaburzania work at the National Security Council.

“I do not like that the Security Ministry has the functions of the police. The special service has nothing to do with the kiosks in the streets and their tax payments” – says newly appointed minister. Khaburzania is going to demand from the Government increase of the wages for Security Ministry’s employees. One of the first actions of the new minister would be an investigation of the case of Rustavi 2 TV company.

On November 21 Narchemashvili and Khaburzania started serving in the ministries in charge of which they have been at the National Security Council and both ministers know the situation in the ministries very well. Therefore, support of the Parliament to their candidatures is logical. But we should not forget that both Narchemashvili and Khaburzania are the members of the temporary government and they have fewer chances for staying on these posts in the new cabinet after the constitutional changes are implemented.

Furthermore, both ministers are rather ‘easily manageable’ by the President and the Secretary of the National Security Council and none of them are expected to play an ‘independent game’ as their predecessors Kakha Targamadze and Shota Kviraia (ex-Security Minister).

By Giorgi Kaladnadze, Civil Georgia


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