Prepared by Anna Kamushadze
Tuesday, February 12
“Opposition expects three of their demands to be fulfilled by February 12”
Opposition coalition member Levan Berdzenishvili spoke to Akhali Taoba on February 11 about the scuttled talks with the government.
After explaining the opposition’s reasons for walking away from the negotiations, Berdzenishvili denies rumors that the smaller parties in the nine-party coalition are purposefully trying to sabotage talks in favor of street protests.
There is no divide between the “little” and “big” parties in the coalition, the Republican parliamentarian tells the newspaper.
“Irakli Okruashvili returns to politics”
Ex-defense minister Irakli Okruashvili will return to politics after he is released from prison, Akhali Taoba writes.
Okruashvili’s lawyer, Eka Beselia, told journalists that Okruashvili never truly withdrew from politics. Her client was under duress when he announced after his September arrest that he was quitting politics, Beselia said.
On February 27 a French court is scheduled to decide on Okruashvili’s extradition to Georgia, where he is wanted on corruption charges.
Several members of Okruashvili’s opposition political party, Movement for a United Georgia, traveled to France with Beselia to meet with Okruashvili. The politicians say they will relay Okruashvili’s message to Georgians when they return to Tbilisi.
“Gvaramia gives two week to settle problems in the Prison Department”
Newly-appointed Justice Minister Nika Gvaramia announced that education for juvenile prisoners must improve, according to Alia.
“The best way is to build a new facility, because we face an overcrowded system,” the newspaper quotes him as saying. “Also, there is a school where juvenile prisoners study, but they don’t get a certificate of completion, so they aren’t able to continue with their studies. We must do everything to help the Education Ministry reform this institution into a normal school which will give certificates to graduates.”
The minister reported that food issues have been taken care of in the juvenile justice facility, and a new heating system is being installed.
“We will come to this facility after two weeks and see how problems have been settled,” Gvaramia concluded.
“Demonstrations will lead Georgia toward crisis”
Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze tells Alia that it is incumbent on the government to keep citizens from turning out into the street to protest.
The analyst warns that a restart to protests and rallies will lead Georgia to another political crisis.
“The government must make concessions and fulfill the opposition’s demands in order to hold parliamentary election in a calm environment,” Sakvarelidze says.
He says it will be bad for the country if the government refuses to compromise, but adds that the responsibility must be shared between both the government and the opposition equally.
Purported transcript of Gelbakhiani-Kodua tape casts conversation in new light
By Shorena Labadze
Alia prints what it claims is a full transcript of the secretly videotaped conversation between Valeri Gelbakhiani and Irakli Kodua.
Authorities released an edited version of the tape in late December, implicating Gelbakhiani in an alleged coup plot orchestrated by billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili; Gelbakhiani says he is innocent, and claims the government edited the tape to frame him.
On February 6, a lawyer for Gelbakhiani, who together with Patarkatsishvili now stands accused of conspiring to overthrow the statement, announced he would present proof that prosecutors’ evidence against Gelbakhiani is forged.
“No newspapers have the space for all the information we have, so we’ll distribute bits of it day-by-day in the print media as well as on television,” lawyer Shalva Khachapuridze said that day.
Alia claims it was provided with the transcript by an anonymous person, and is printing it in its entirety out of a duty to its readers.
In the alleged transcript, Gelbakhiani seems to be trying to prevent a possible confrontation between anti-government protestors and state security forces.
Gelbakhiani asks Kodua, a top ranking Interior Ministry official, to take over the Interior Ministry, according to the transcript. Gelbakhiani says there is only one person higher-ranking than Kodua who must be “neutralized.”
“When I say we need to block them, I don’t mean we are starting a war,” he says.
The two men also refer to the Rurua brothers. According to those on the tape, the only goal the Rurua brothers have is to protect themselves.
“The main threat for creating a tension is [MP Nika] Rurua. He has his 300-person group under direct control. We need to work on how neutralize him, or better to say how to block him,” Gelbakhiani says.
Gelbakhiani says the political situation in Georgia attracts the interest of at least five countries. The Unites States, Turkey, Iran, Russia and Israel all keep an eye on the political situation in Georgia, he explains.
“The USA is not interested in destabilization, but Russia is. I think the USA will try to find a solution, so that some compromises are found in the country. The same thing can happen as in Ukraine,” he said.
He adds that both Russia and the United States are interested in establishing control in Georgia, as the country is “a guide to the Caucasus.”