TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili refuses to use the Special State Protection Service service after bitter negotiations with the government about the size and financing of the unit.
Saakashvili said during a press conference on Tuesday eveningthat he was adamant about putting an end to talk about his allegedly luxurious lifestyle and would issue a decree to bar any SSPS officer from coming close to him.
Earlier in the day his spokesperson Manana Manjgaladze said that the president’s decision followed Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s ‘personal decision’ to fire SSPS head Temur Janashia.
“In this situation the president sees only one way out – to refuse using guard services. Accordingly, since Tuesday morning special measures aren’t taken for president’s protection,” Manana Manjgaladze said. “This won’t interrupt the president from moving around and meeting with the population.”
Later Saakashvili told TV journalists that moving around without guards wouldn’t create any problems and if necessary he could drive his car himself.
Saakashvili said that the reform of SSPS was overseen and endorsed by the ‘diplomatic corps’, thus good, but his bitter rivals in the government blocked its implementation demanding in return his consent for constitutional changes which should reduce his grip on power.
Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili from the Georgian Dream coalition speaks of a quite different scenario. He said that the proposed reform would divide the uniformed SSPS service into different units, while the president, his administration and his family would be granted a separate service fully under the control of the president’s administration.
He added that the constitutional amendments were not discussed in the negotiations.
The speaker also argues that Saakashvili demanded a 1 800 member strong unit for his protection while the government was ready to allocate only up to 400.
Before the defeat in the parliamentary elections on October 1, 2012 and change of government, up to 3 000 officers provided protection for Saakashvili, including the so called external guards, the low ranking officers standing along the whole route of the president’s motorcade.
The new government later passed a 2013 budget which significantly reduces the financing of the president’s administration. http://dfwatch.net/ivanishvili-practically-shuts-down-georgias-security-council-98247