TBILISI, DFWatch — The Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council says that the detention of the former interior minister and head of the General Headquarters is ‘an alarming signal’.
The only legal move which can slightly simplify the situation is to immediately release them, says Giga Bokeria.
The Security Council Secretary Wednesday sharply criticized the previous night’s detention of Bacho Akhalaia, the former interior minister, Giorgi Kalandadze, current head of the General Headquarters and Zurab Shamatava, commander of the Fourth Brigade of Georgia’s armed forces.
They are all accused of abuse of powers, but have not been officially charged yet. Under Georgian law, they must be charged within 48 hours or set free. All three may face from five to eight years in jail, if found guilty.
Giga Bokeria says the detention of the three is a form of political persecution which he considers alarming.
“We face all the signs of using the Prosecutor’s Office for political goals,” Bokera says, explaining that ‘in the case of Giorgi Kalandadze, it was clear that the goal was to replace him with Kapanadze, despite this being the prerogative of the president’.
“But when they received a refusal, we saw that they got rid of the hero of the war in 2008 and his detention.”
In the case of Bacho Akhalaia, he says that the former defense minister came back to Georgia and went to the prosecutor’s office ‘on his own feet.’
“There were no grounds for their arrests. Those steps affect the country’s democratic processes already, while abroad – in regards of the country’s reputation, especially in the context of the future NATO summit.
The only correct step to ease the situation is to release all of them, while all three are ready to cooperate with the investigation, he added.
The parliamentary minority, President Saakashvili’s National Movement Party, makes the same assessment of these events.
Pavle Kublashvili, a member of parliament for National Movement, claims that Bacho Akhalaia was arrested by personal order of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and Defense Minister Irakli Alasania.
He claims that Alasania might be motivated by his loss in the parliamentary election in the Zugdidi district and that the move to detain military top Kalandadze is a trick to get in place his own candidate to the same post in the General Headquarters.
In last months election, Irakli Alasania ran against Bacho Akhalaia’s father in Zugdidi. The latter, Roland Akhalaia, won. Alasania claims that results in the district were falsified, but a court that reviewed a complaint against the results did not agree.
The minority underlines that Irakli Alasania failed to reach an agreement with the president about who to appoint to the post as head of the General Headquarters and the only way out he found was to arrest the person currently holding the position. Under Georgian law, the president appoints the head of the General Headquarters. The now detained Giorgi Kapanadze was appointed to the post only a month ago.
Davit Bakradze, former Parliament Speaker and a member of the minority, suspects that the arrest of Giorgi Kalandadze will have negative repercussions for Georgia at the upcoming NATO summit in December.
“It’s better not to joke with this person, who really is a hero of the August [2008 Russia-Georgia] war. This is a person who defended his country by risking own life. He was wounded but didn’t leave his soldiers and didn’t leave the war,” Bakradze reminded members of parliament during today’s plenary session.
He remarked that the detentions is a test for the new government; whether things keep within legal frames and not turn into a political game.