TBILISI, DFWatch — Several powerful ministers in the Saakashvili government have not been seen in the country since the first results of the parliament election became known.
Dimitry Sashkin, who lately served as defense minister, today posted an appeal on his Facebook page to sergeants, corporals, soldiers, friends and colleagues in the Georgian military.
“I made a decision to leave Georgia with a hope that I will return and will have a chance to serve to my country, my people,” he writes.
“I won’t be surprised that in near future you may hear many ‘unheard stories’ about me. Those who know me will not believe it. But if someone doesn’t know me, I want to assure them that I always upheld the law and was responsible for my duties. I don’t regret any of the decisions which I made for the last four years and I’m ready to answer any questions.”
Just like the other former government members, Dimitry Sashkin underlines that he has been working in Saakashvili’s government because he completely shared his ideals and ideas.
He draws attention to the fact that he has worked in three different government bodies since 2008: as prison minister, education minister and defense minister.
In his Facebook post, the exiled minister recalls the successful reforms he conducted in his various ministerial positions.
“Personally for me it is very important that people thanked me in the streets that during the period that I was prison minster, death and violence was reduced in the system,” Shashkin writes.
His portrayal stands in sharp contrast to what is being reported by observers. Georgia holds the top place among countries in terms of prisoner deaths per capita, and the figure increases annually. In addition, there was recently documented grave prisoner abuse, in a prison system over which Shashkin had responsibility for some of his time in government.
In terms of education, another area he has had responsibility for, these reforms are among the most successful conducted during Saakashvili’s government, but in recent years this system has also criticized, especially the reforms at schools. But Shahskin writes in length about the successes achieved while he was education minister: internationalization of schools, increased teacher salaries, new computers, thousands of foreign English teachers, and refurbishment of schools.
In his letter Shahskin apologizes to the army for not managing to implement the plans he declared when recently being appointed to this position.
He says Georgia has never been so close to NATO integration as now.
“Unfortunately, I don’t believe that new government will continue this course. I wish to God that I am mistaken.”
No National Movement representatives want to comment on Shashkin’s Facebook post. They advise journalists to contact Dimitry Shashkin and ask him directly.
Levan Berdzenishvili, a parliamentarian for Georgian Dream coalition representing the Republican party, thinks Shashkin now should be considered a fugitive, but says if Shashkin has any legal debts to the state Georgia will find him everywhere.
“He has run away. No more talks are needed here. He probably doesn’t know that this is shameful decision, while his team members are yet here,” he told journalists on Monday.
“When we speak of Shashkin, Adeishvili, the [brothers] Akhalaias, they leave the country not because someone plans political persecution, but because they are afraid of the legal system and it seem they have left a crime behind them,” he said, and added that he won’t draw any preliminary conclusions.
Another members of the Georgian Dream coalition says no one should be afraid of being in the country if they are not innocent, but if guilty it’s not a problem to find them abroad.
Shortly after the preliminary results of parliament elections indicated a Georgian Dream victory, media reported about the disappearance and sudden “vacations” of officials, mainly in law enforcement bodies. Those who have disappeared so far are Bacho Akhalaia, former Interior and Prison Minsiter suspected to be engaged in prison torture cases, his brother Data Akhalaia, Deputy Defense Minister, Zurab Adeishvili, Justice Minister, Murtaz Zodelava, Chief Prosecutor – all of them are reported to having left the country.