Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nino Burjanadze: Saakashvili believed that he could take Tskhinvali in one night

Нино Бурджанадзе: Саакашвили уверял, что захватит Цхинвали за одну ночь

[You can also read the translation from the original Georgian here.]

One of the leaders of the Georgian opposition, ex-Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, told the Tbilisi daily newspaper "Asaval-Dasavali" that Mikheil Saakashvili shared his war plan with her on August 3. "He said that we would take Tskhinvali in one night," said Burjanadze.

Burjanadze formally resigned from her position on April 28, 2008. Her meeting with Saakashvili in August was the first since the two leaders of the "Rose Revolution" had separated. At that time, Burjanadze had not gone over to the opposition since she still wished to consult with her former ally.

"We met at his residence on August 3, on Sunday, at 5 pm. We talked for close to an hour and twenty minutes," recalls Burjanadze. "I told him that a war with Russia would only end in catastrophe for Georgia. Saakashvili still believed that we would take Tskhinvali in one night. I replied that that wouldn't happen. Secondly, that the capture of Tskhinvali does not mean a resolution to our problems. I also told him that even if we get South Ossetia back by military means, we would lose Abkhazia for good. Saakashvili acknowledged this."

Burjanadze recalled several more conversations and arguments with the president and his inner circle: "They said that the Russians have rusty tanks, that we would win the war, that we would crush them and advance all the way to Moscow."

The interview turned to the topic of scandal. Burjanadze told of how the Georgian secret service controlled the meeting of opposition leaders with US vice president Joseph Biden.

"I have no doubts that the meeting was recorded," she said. "All diplomats in Georgia know that their phones are tapped, that their movements are traced. I know that one diplomat of high rank, upon discovering that he was being followed, filed a protest against deputy minister of foreign affairs Giga Bokeria."

(Photo: Reuters)