Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili celebrating his police reforms May 6, 2012, at the central square in Gori. (Photo: Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian president claims Russia tried to copy the Georgian police reforms, but could not get them to work.

Sunday, Saakashvili marked a recently created national holiday called Police Day, held on the same day as St George’s Day, May 6, which already is a religious holiday.

The event was first held in 2010 in Tbilisi, but this time took place on the central square of Gori, in front of the house in which Josef Stalin was born. Standing on a platform in front of the building which had been draped in EU and Georgian flags, Saakashvili said that a person in Russia who committed a crime by signing the recognition of Georgia’s occupied territories as states; copied the Georgian police law.

“They copied part of our police uniforms, equipment our police cars, our buildings. Then they openly said: what can we do, we very much want to conduct a ‘Georgian’ reform, but nothing will result, because we are large and Georgia is small – it’s not about size, you should have such heart, you should have a new mentality and a new world in your head, that is the difference. That is why Georgia is a orient for whole post-soviet space and Europe,” he said in front of rows of thousands of security and police servicemen and vehicles on Gori’s central square.

Among the many reforms attempted in Georgia after the rose revolution in 2003, the police reform is considered to be the most successful. Saakashvili fired about seventeen thousand police employees and hired new personnel, and the extent of security personnel is still increasing.

There have been built many police buildings in red and blue with large areas of their façade in glass.

As in other former Soviet countries, Georgia used to have a low level corruption that was so persistent that the tourist guide Lonely Planet listed the going rate for being allowed to pass by the traffic police. This form of corruption has been eradicated, but political commentators and the opposition claim that there still is so-called elite corruption.