Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saakashvili offers 'Patriot Act'

The following is from

Saakashvili Offers ‘Patriot Act’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Aug.'08 / 23:12

Saakashvili said late on August 29:
Russia wants regime change in Georgia;
‘Patriot Act’ is needed;
No civil liberties will be restricted;
State should resume party funding.

President Saakashvili said on August 29 Georgia needed, what he called, “a patriot act” to deter possible attempts of government overthrow through foreign intervention.

Speaking with the local authorities in the port town of Poti late on August 29, where the Russian forces maintain two outposts, Saakashvili said that Russia’s major goal in Georgia was to overthrow his government.

“It obvious that their goal was not taking over Tskhinvali, which is Georgia’s provincial town - only few people in Russia may know where it is located,” Saakashvili said at the meeting, which was televised live by the Rustavi 2 TV. “Their [Russia’s] goal was to take over Tbilisi and to overthrow the government.”

He said that Russians made it clear even publicly few days ago – apparently referring to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s August 26 statement in which it said “the Saakashvili regime does not at all meet the high standards set by the world community” and added it was sure that “sooner or later” the Georgian people would have “worthy leaders.”

Saakashvili said that he planned to propose the parliament to develop “the patriot act” and added that this new legislature – details of which he did not elaborate – would no way infringe the civil liberties.

“This will be carried out under the condition of maintaining democracy; freedom and liberties,” he added and repeated it for coupe of more times.

He said that the act was needed to prevent “external attempts to destabilize the country.”

The first time when the ruling party politicians started talking about the need for, what they called, “a U.S. Patriot Act-style” legislature, was in the summer, 2006, shortly after the Kodori events.

When some opposition politicians condemned the Georgian forces crack down on rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani’s militia groups in the upper Kodori Gorge in July, 2006, they were immediately labeled by the ruling party politicians as traitors. Nika Gvaramia, who is now the Justice Minister, and at that time was a lawmaker, said on July 29, 2006 that the Parliament had to develop “a legislature similar to the one which is in the United States, I mean the Patriot Act… which will be directed against treacherous statements against the motherland.”

The issue, however, was shelved shortly after that and no one has ever raised the matter again up to now.

Also on August 29, President Saakashvili said that the authorities should revise decision on suspending funding of several parties from the state budget.

“We should finance the political parties and impose strict control to prevent any funding coming from the foreign countries – I mean from one particular country,” he said obviously referring to Russia.

In a highly controversial move in July the Parliament passed an amendment to the law that denied six opposition parties, which boycotted the new Parliament, state funding. The move was mainly perceived as a punishment for those opposition parties, which refused to enter into the new Parliament, citing that the May 21 parliamentary elections were rigged.

President Saakashvili said on August 29, that there have been “certain disagreements” over the party funding issue, but these disagreements, he said, should now be removed.

He also said that despite of “some exceptions,” the opposition political groups in general acted in a very appropriate manner at the time of the Russian invasion.

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