Monday, September 29, 2008

Former Insider Lashes Out at Authorities

From (not a translation)

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Sep.'08 / 21:25

Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a person who once owned Rustavi 2 TV and was President Saakashvili’s administration insider, said a political force that would be an alternative to the current “discredited authorities” should be established.

Kitsmarishvili served as Georgia’s ambassador in Moscow, before he was recalled in July. Kitsmarishvili, who has never been a career diplomat, was dismissed by the Foreign Ministry in mid-September. He was the President’s close ally and was Saakashvili’s key strategist ahead of the January 5 snap presidential elections.

Kitsmarishvili used a newspaper interview published on September 29 in the largest-selling Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra, to unleash criticism of his former allies for as he put it a failure to avert war with Russia and also for degenerating level of democracy and freedom of media. He said that level of democracy was higher in the last years of Eduard Shevardnadze’s presidency, than it was now.

“People like me should no longer be part of this government; they should be opponents of these authorities with which the resource of relation has been exhausted,” Kitsmarishvili said.

“There are many interesting persons both within and outside the current authorities,” he continued, but did not specify the names. “We should create an alternative to these authorities. That is my position, because today we have discredited authorities.”

He said that this alternative was needed in order to restore political balance in the country and to create kind of a checks-and-balances system.

“I will be one of them who will implement this; the current reality [that has emerged after the August war with Russia] will help this process, as well as the political forces – which are in the process of establishment and part of them has already established themselves,” he said.

Kitsmarishvili said that the war could have been averted if President Saakashvili had listened to senior western diplomats and if he had not gone into the Russian trap.

“I, as the last ambassador of Georgia to Russia, want to stress that the Georgian authorities did not take into account the position of top diplomats regarding the conflict resolution issues,” Kitsmarishvili said. “Hence, I, who stood aside these authorities, despite numerous disagreements want to announce that there is no place for me to stay with the Saakashvili’s government… and I distance myself from him [President Saakashvili].”

He also said that planned “public activities,” but added he was not ready at this point to specify details of his future plans.

When speaking about the August war, Kitsmarishvili recalled Georgia’s UN ambassador Irakli Alasania’s efforts to push for the peace plan with Abkhazia.

“In case of implementation of this plan, we could have averted bloody scenario of events,” Kitsmarishvili said.

Also in this context he mentioned that ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze; Irakli Alasania and “the Georgian diplomats” in general “have not been listened” by the senior decision-makers in the Georgian authorities.

He also suggested that “little chances” would have still remained for averting the war if Burjanadze was the Parliamentary Chairperson.

Kitsmarishvili is a founder of the Rustavi 2 television. He gained significant political weight – although he never was an acting politician - after the 2003 Rose Revolution as his television station sided with then opposition leaders and played key role in those developments back in November, 2003. He said that next day after ex-president Shevardnadze stepped down on November 23, Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze, Zurab Zhvania and he met and distributed powers and responsibilities in post-revolution Georgia. Kitsmarishvili has claimed that his role – as a participant of the Rose Revolution “project,” as he called it - was to oversee observance of the verbal agreement reached between the leaders.

Kitsmarishvili had to give up the television stations, supposedly, after disagreements with Zurab Zhvania, the late Prime Minister.

In the newspaper interview, Kitsmarishvili acknowledged having disagreements with Zhvania and even said: “we have parted ways as enemies.” He also said that he did not believe Zhvania’s death in February, 2005 was just an accident; “It was a murder,” he said, but did no elaborate further on the matter.

Kitsmarishvili’s criticism of the Saakashvili’s administration comes two weeks after the same newspaper published an interview with ex-Prime Minister Zurab Nogaidlei, who also under the pretext of the August war lashed out at his former allies. Nino Burjanadze, the ex-parliamentary speaker, stopped short of directly accusing the authorities for the August war, but said she had “tough questions” which needed answers from the government.

Giga Bokeria, a deputy foreign minister, and an influential figure within the administration, hinted that losing of official posts was the reason behind the critical remarks of former allies.

“It is strange that such criticism coincides as usually with the fact of losing bureaucratic posts,” he said in an interview with the Kviris Palitra also published on September 29. He declined to comment why Kitsmarishvili was dismissed.

Kitsmarishvili, meanwhile, has claimed that before quitting the Saakashvili’s administration, he had been offered a new post – which he refused to specify – but declined.