Friday, October 30, 2009

Bitsadze says survived an assasination attempt by Saakashvili, "one more minute and it would have turned out very badly"

ბიწაძე ამბობს, რომ სააკაშვილის ბრძანებით დაგეგმილ თავდასხმას გადაურჩა "წუთიც და იქ ძალიან ცუდი ფაქტი მოხდებოდა"

From Georgian daily "Rezonansi," by Tamta Karchava

Badri Bitsadze [former Chief of Border Police and husband of opposition leader Nino Burjanadze] accuses the government authorities for making an attempt on his life. According to Bitsadze, on October 27, after leaving TV company "Maestro," his car was followed by three black SUVs. The cars stopped by Vakhushti Bridge and were preparing to stage an incident, according to Bitsadze, when he made the decision to return to "Maestro." Bitsadze was a guest on "Cell #5" [an opposition TV talk show starring Giorgi Gachechiladze, famous musician and brother of opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze, who has sworn to stay in his "cell" while Saakashvili remains president of Georgia]. The main topic of discussion concerned the government's hand in the bombing of Tskhinavli and the current situation in Pankisi Gorge.

Badri Bitsadze: At 12:30, I left TV company "Maestro." The moment I set foot out of theat studio, three black SUVs began to tail me. They tried to stage an incident at the start of Vakhushti Bridge.

Rezonanshi: Why do you think they were tailing you?

BB: One more minute and it would have turned out very badly. Two cars were in front of us, one in back, but we knew something was up and we turned around. The cars scattered--that's always a sure sign. I know Saakashvili all too well and most likely, after hearing what I had to say that night, he issued an order for me to be punished.

R: What was it that you said that angered the authorities?

BB: I said the truth, about what I know, and what I have seen with my own eyes. I talked about Tskhinvali and also Pankisi. I talked about the possibility of terrorists crossing into the Pankisi Gorge. As for Tskhinvali, I said that the war could have been avoided if Saakashvili weren't president, and I know that this angered him. I said that Saakashvili was preparing for this war.

R: Did you confront them?

BB: No.

R: Why not?

BB: Because there were two police patrols lying in ambush and they were keeping an eye on the scene. They know that I have the right to carry a gun and that I'm a more than qualified to handle it. That's why they want to shoot me. For them, the life of a person is nothing. They would kill one of their hired men and then blame it on me. That's what they wanted to do this time, but it didn't work out. The two cars which were driving in front of me blocked the bridge, the third was behind me. At that moment, I made the decision not to continue and turned around and headed back to the TV studio. It seems that they became confused. It took them a long time to decide what to do. . They came back for me, but by then I was already in the TV studio.

R: When you got back to the TV studio, they came back for you?

BB: Yes. They came up to the TV studio, but there were people waiting for them. They realized that it wasn't going to work out and they left. I want to tell these people that it would be best for them to forget about shadowing me.

R: Approximately how many people were in the car?

BB: It had tinted windows and I couldn't see if they were masked or not. In the two cars in front, there were four people in each. I don't know how many people were in the car behind me. I'm certain that they would have been armed. I know Saakashvili's character, and while he was watching the broadcast, I know that he gave the order.

R: What order did he give?

BB: An order for my punishment, of course.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One hundred meters from Trinity Cathedral

[The following is my incomplete translation of the most recent cover article from Asaval-Dasavali. It concerns the recent scandal involving disparaging comments made about Georgian Patriarch Ilia II. The title "One hundred meters from Trinity [Sameba] Cathedral" is a reference to the Presidential Palace located near the Patriarch's primary place of worship. The beginning of this article promises an interesting read... The rest of the translation will come in pieces throughout the week--check back often!--Ryan]

სამების ტაძრიდან ას მეტრში

It’s 11:30 at night in the Avlabari District. Mikheil Saakashvili is pacing back and forth in his office. Both anger and despair are written across his face, and every once in a while he casts a hopeless glance towards his two advisers, Nodar Grigalashvili and Van Bayburt, who are fidgeting in their leather armchairs and casting furtive looks at Saakashvili’s desk. A rather large ashtray sits between them as does a television remote, and like two birds afraid that they will be struck by either object, neither dares to fly away from the leader.

Each time the restless Saakashvili nears his desk, Grigalashvili and Baiburt feel death’s grip tightening, thinking that now’s the moment that he’s going to make a fist or seize the ashtray or remote and come after us. True, these two have nothing to do with Saakashvili’s current rage, but when Saakashvili is angry, does he distinguish the guilty from the innocent?

Only when Saakashvili storms out of his office into his sitting room and stands directly beneath the large chandelier do Nodar and Van breathe a sigh of relief. The advisers’ chests loosen a bit. We saved the ashtray, they think to themselves.

“Did you hear what he said? Oh, why did Ilia II do this to me?! As if the Tagliavini report weren’t enough, now I’ve got to deal with this? Who is this guy, who is Ilia II…? I’ll see to it that he’s put into his place. I must, I must! What am I going on about! I won’t have him…” So distressed is Saakashvili that even his speech fails him.

“What are we going to do now? His words could be serious trouble. The people will pay close attention to what he says, for we all know how these people wait eagerly for each and every one of his words!” says Nodar Grigalashvili, avoiding the eyes of his boss.

“Van, what do you say? What do you think?” Saakashvili asks Bayburt. “How do we silence this man… how do we cover up what he said? How do we make sure that they don’t heed his comments and are instead distracted by something else?”

“What do I know, Misha, sir, what do I know? This man is the Patriarch, not just some nobody, Misha, sir. As for what we should do with him, what do I know?! He’s the Patriarch. He has a lot of authority, and should anything arise, the people will protect him, they will stand by his side! Misha, sir, what should I tell you!” says Bayburt, who also looks away from Saakashvili. He is staring at Nodar’s shoes. On one shoe, the presidential adviser has a loose strap; the other is fine—the strap has broken off entirely and has been replaced by a cord.

The scene is a comic one, but it is no time to laugh when the boss is angry.

“Nodar, what do you say? What should we do? We need to do something, that’s for sure, that way I can’t be stopped! Who does Ilia II think he is? To me, he is nobody. To me, he is not the Patriarch, and no one is. I’ll put him in his plae. Nodar, what should we do?” asks Saakashvili.

“What can I tell you, Misha, what can I tell you, my friend, what do I know? I’m…as Ilia Chavchavadze once wrote, 'I’m simply the man in the middle, sometimes of the earth, sometimes of the sky.'"

“Eh, Nodarik, it’s not 'sometimes of the sky, sometimes of the earth,' but 'I’m neither of the sky nor earth.' Moreover, it wasn’t Ilia Chavchavadze but Akaki Tsereteli!” interrupts Van Bayburt, catching Grigalasvhili’s mistake.

[More to come of this dramatization...]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Now offering translation services...

Many people come to this site looking for Russian or Georgian-to-English translation. I've now decided to make my services available for pretty much free. Just send me what you want translated and I'll get back to you. I'll translate short documents (less than one page) for free--but if you really like the service, always feel free to make a donation!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kitsmarishvili article done

Please read the post below to read the completed translation of Erosi Kitsmarishvili's interview with Georgian newspaper Asaval-Dasavali regarding the Tagliavini report.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Former Georgian Ambassador to Russia on Tagliavini Report

[Edit: the translation is complete]

[The following is my translation (from Georgian) of Erosi Kintsamarishvili's interview with Georgian newspaper Asavali-Dasavali.]

Erosi Kitsmarishvili, Georgia’s last ambassador to Russia [there are currently no diplomatic relations between the two countries following the August 2008 war], is the only person who dared to state openly at a meeting of a temporary parliamentary investigative commission that the August war was started by Saakashvili. Today, Kintsmarishvili says that the Tagliavini commission’s findings correspond precisely with his conclusions and that this is Europe’s verdict on Saakashvili’s government:

EK: The Tagliavini commission gave its unequivocal evaluation of last August’s war. Word for word, it agreed with what I said before the parliamentary commission: the war was started by Georgia when it stormed Tskhinvali on August 7, but that the Russians were provoking the situation in the period leading up to it. These are not only the findings of the Tagliavini commission, but also that of “Rueters”, “The Associated Press”, “The New York Times”, and the “BBC”. There aren’t more authoritative media sources than these. Yes, the Tagliavini commission was the sole and most authoritative commission. There will never be a commission of higher authority on this matter; therefore, its findings carry a lot of weight. Of course, it does not have any legal power, it cannot hold anyone responsible. It only provides facts, and in this case, it determined that Georgia started the war. The international community has pronounced Saakashvili as a man who comitted war crimes and who on the basis of these findings has found himself isolated. Now, the main thing is that we must act in such a way that the country itself won’t become isolated.

A-D: Saakashvili is still telling us that this is a diplomatic victory for Georgia and a defeat for Russia.

Saakashvili’s statements in the last few days are only meant for internal consumption. Outside the country, no one listens to him any longer as the world’s best experts have pronounced that Saakashvili started the war, and this pronouncement is no longer up for debate. The only thing Saakashvili is concerned with now is making sure that inside the country, the people don’t have an alternate opinion. But they can’t change what the report says. Now, the real question is what the people think about this man, thanks to whom we lost new territories, we now have tens of thousands of refugees, and thanks to his doing, has brought back the Russian army and plans of military bases to the South Caucasus. In order to figure out what the people are thinking, we first need to supply them with accurate information.

Your newspaper, Asavali-Dasavali, reaches nearly every household, and that’s why I want to take this opportunity to tell all households: what you hear from the government, and what you’re being told through TV—it’s all lies. The truth is what’s written here, not only here, but also what’s being said in serious publications around the world: Saakashvili started the war. Now, I ask you, the Georgian people, what do you think? Do you want a new war with Russia? Is there any prospect of victory in such a war? Do we want to clash with the Abkhaz and Ossetian people? Do we want a government which hurled our country into catastrophe, has become isolated and now wants to bring the country down with it?

Do you know what this means? It means that our families, spouses, will be forced to go abroad in search of work, without rights, to work in slave-like conditions, that the problems of unemployment, lack of rights, and poverty will deepen. This is the reality that faces us if we don’t express our position with regard to this man, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Mr. Kintsmarishvili, you were saying that Saakashvili had been preparing for this military campaign for a long time.

In 2004, when Saakashvili peacefully, gently—you could even say without a hitch—managed to effect a regime change in Ajaria, he came under the illusion that he could resolve the Abkhazian and Ossetian problems just as easily. That’s when he began the preparations. I believed that it was possible to repair relations with the Ossetians and the Abkhazians by peaceful means, but that this would require a healthy economy, the successful development of the country, and the establishment of soft, warm relations, but Saakashvili did not heed this advice and immediately opted for military confrontation.One of the reasons I left Georgia was the failure to agree on this issue. The first attempt at a military campaign came in June 2004 and ended in an absolute fiasco. Following this, Saakashvili made up his mind to go to war. While this was going on, I believed that I could change his mind. For this reason, I returned to Georgia and once again stood by his side. I agreed to the ambassadorship to Russia for the very reason that I knew that he was preparing for a conflict with Russia, and I believed that I could help achieve a peaceful outcome with regards to relations with Russia.

Was there really the possibility that this war could have been avoided?

I can confidently say that this war could have been avoided from the very beginning. But from 2004 until the events of August 2008, Saakashvili’s sights were set on only one thing: he wanted to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity by military operation. He said that war was how we should re-unite the country, and off he went. He shamefully lost the war, killed innocents, while he himself had his luggage packed should he have needed to flee. And after the war he comes out and says that whatever the situation, he would fire shots again when he feels like it. This begs the question of the Georgian people: Are we where we want to be?

In your opinion, we aren’t where we should be, that we still have a long road ahead of us?

The man is saying that he’s going to bring out the guns again. Where he’ll shoot and in what manner, God knows!

By the way, Okruashvili said in an interview that Saakashvili often told him that had dreams of appearing before The Hague Tribunal. Do you think this dream will come true?

Oddly enough, today Saakashvili is saying that Medvedev and Putin should appear before The Hague Tribunal. It’s classic Freudian psychology—he’s talking about what should happen to others when he himself should be afraid, and it’s true that this fear that he might appear before The Hague has been bothering him for quite some time. Saakashvili has been seriously worried for a long time now that he would become blamed and that this would land him before The Hague. The “Economist” wrote: “If justice were the ultimate goal, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, and Mikheil Saakashvili, his Georgian counterpart, should appear together in court in The Hague.” However, I think that Saakasvhili shouldn’t appear before The Hague; rather, he should appear before a court of the Georgian people, or rather a court of the Georgian, Abkhazian, and Ossetian people.

You’re saying that changes are necessary. How do you see these changes being realized?

First of all, the opposition across the board needs to realize that the people deserve the honest truth. The propaganda machine is running at full tilt, and accurate information about the Tagliavini report is not being delivered to the people. Therefore, this information needs to be brought to each and every household. Afterwards, a poll should be taken, and if we see that the people’s attitude agrees, for example, with mine, then we need to utilize all forms of pressure on the government. Let me reiterate, all forms of pressure so that things are taken step-by-step.

How likely is it that the people’s efforts no longer matter, and that instead, the international community will demand Saakashvili to leave?

That’s out of the question. The international community has already told us that the problem is this man, but they also told us that whoever killed the dog should also carry it away. I’ve never seen a clearer message.

Europe told us: “We said that this man is guilty, and now you are free to make of that what you will.” That is, it’s up to us now if we should keep Saakashvili or let him go. If we can’t succeed [in letting Saakashvili go], then a very depressing future awaits us!