TBILISI, DFWatch–A former speaker of parliament in Georgia claims that the government of then President Mikheil Saakashvili planned to attack the breakaway region Abkhazia in 2008.
Nino Burjanadze, who was one of the leaders of the Rose Revolution in 2003 and now leads the opposition party Democratic Movement, made the claim during a talk show on Imedi TV Wednesday evening.
She said government officials during Saakashvili’s government were planning to invade Sukhumi, a city in Abkhazia, in the spring of 2008. This happened at the Defense Ministry at night, she said, adding that the meeting was also attended by former officials Vano Merabishvili, Giga Bokeria, Eka Tkeshelashvili, Alexandre Lomaia, Grigol Vashadze and Davit Kezerashvili, as well as President Mikheil Saakashvili. Officials from the Joint Staff were also present.
According to Burjanadze, she and former Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili were against starting a war with Abkhazia.
“Giga Bokeria [former Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council] was yelling excitedly: ‘We have a carte blanche and we must start war in Abkhazia’,” Burjanadze recalls.
She said Abkhazia at the time was bringing armies in by train and started to restore the railway through that region, which had been closed since the war in the 1990s.
She said she was present at the Defense Ministry that night. The plan concerned how to get to Sukhumi.
“But either Saakashvili or his friends were interested in anything apart from Sukhumi.”
She also said it was during this time Vladimir Putin and Saakashvili had a phone conversation.
“I was present during this phone conversation and it happened on my initiative,” she continued.
“Saakashvili then remembered that Putin told him if he would start a war there, Russia had peacekeeping forces and he would defeat the Georgian army, would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia and would dissolve Georgia.”
Burjanadze says the government planned to start a war in Abkhaiza in April 2008. She told Saakashvili he couldn’t win the war.
“I was told that one Georgian soldier was equal to 50 Russian soldiers and we had the newest equipment, them – rusty weapons.”
Burjanadze claims Merabishvili, the former interior minister now on trial, wasn’t quite enthusiastic about this idea. She also claims it is her merit that this war was avoided and it is the fault of the ex-president that there was a war another place in August, 2008.
Giga Bokeria, former Secretary of the National Security Council, on Thursday called Burjanadze’s statement nonsense.
“It’s a brazen and cynical lie that the government wanted to start war with Abkhazia in April 2008,” he said.