TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Monday defended a new network of voluntary reservists which the main opposition bloc has warned are paramilitaries meant for starting a civil war.
Saakashvili, speaking at an event to mark 23 years since a brutal Soviet crackdown on independence protesters, talked about the idea of the Georgian army and said ‘who ever today raises his hand about Georgian army idea in Georgia, including idea of reservists, they directly serves for Georgian enemies.’
Recently Irakli Alasania, part of the opposition bloc Georgian Dream led by Bidznia Ivanishvili, said that the government is setting up illegal paramilitary groups in Samegrelo, a region in Western Georgia, groups aimed at being used in the election and to start a civil war.
The government responded that Alasania is spreading incorrect information and that the groups are just voluntary reservists.
Saakashvili did not mention Alasania in his speech on Monday. But he focused on the importance of volunteer reserve service.
He said 50 000 people have signed up for voluntary reserve service the last nine months and that he hopes the number will reach 100 000 this summer.
“I’m not talking about recruit reserve, but voluntary reservists, about Georgians who want to protect their village, city, district, house; and they request training and a weapon from us. This is not a whim of any political party or group. These people are of different political beliefs, religion, different ethnic origins, but the idea of the Georgian state is equally valuable for all of them and I’m proud that this was set up here in Georgia together with our army. We should never appear in a condition when enemy was tormenting one part of Georgia and all restaurants of Tbilisi were full of people,” Mikheil Saakashvili said on Monday, while addressing soldiers in the garden of the Georgian parliament.
April 9 is both the anniversary of Georgia’s independence, and the day when Soviet troops dispersed peaceful rally in 1989. Two years later to the day, and following a referendum, the restoration of independence was announced.
Saakashvili celebrated this day in front of the parliament building, where these events happened, and also awarded medals to the creators of two combat new vehicles called Lazika and Didgori.
He gave Awards of Excellence to Colonel Giorgi Kalandadze and Revaz Charbadze, Director of Science at the technology center Delta. He also awarded the Vakhtang Gorgasali First Degree Award to Gela Chanturidze, Deputy Director of Delta.