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Who was where during the August war?

Thursday, October 23
The country’s leadership is facing severe criticism over the August war with Russia for different reasons. The opposition wants many questions to be answered openly and transparently, such as, who was the commander in chief of the ground operations? Who took the decision to start the assault? What were the exact numbers of military and civilian casualties? And the list can go on.

What this boils down to is that the opposition and the general population want to know who was where during the firecest days of the August war. This question requires a clear and straightforward answer.

The opposition has named members of the administration who fled the country on August 8 and 9. If those individuals did this, they should take responsibility for their behaviour. If not, the opposition should be sued for defamation. Either they ran away or they didn’t, there is no third option. If there are no consequences to the opposition statement for either side, the question would be left open, and we would not really be trying to investigate the truth about the August conflict, as both sides claim.

After the war the Georgian President thanked the Government for its efficient and effective work. This is the version put out by the authorities: all went well, there was no substantial breakdown of the perfectly-running state machine. Republican David Zurabishvili, commenting on this, has suggested that the President is trying hard to show that things were going right, but in reality “there was serious panic and they were running from here.” New Rights Party member Mamuka Katsitadze has said that a convoy of state officials’ cars was heading eastward on the evening of August 8. He also suggests, through unconfirmed sources, that Saakashvili was also out of the country for some time though he cannot confirm the truthfulness of this information.

Senior Labour Party figure Giorgi Gugava stated some days ago that during the war the Aliev Olympic Centre in Zakatala, Azerbaijan, was occupied by members of the Georgian leadership, who spent nights there and reentered Georgia when the needed to be seen. Gugava named David Bakradze, David Darchiashvili, Kakha Lomaia, Mikheil Machavariani and others as people who did this, asking reporters to check the information if interested. Their families had been evacuated as well.

The authorities categorically deny these stories. The Parliamentary Commission headed by Paata Davitaia will be left to discover the truth. However there is another source of information which can be checked. The Border Police register all citizens crossing the border from either side. Even video pictures of them are available. If anyone really did flee the country, the Border Police will have record of it, a fact which sheds some light on recent allegations that the Government is now underfunding this department of state.

“Let Parliament ask us and we will submit the lists. We have all the names and data,” says Badri Bitsadze, head of the Border Police Department. The information it provides will be very interesting, as Badri Bitsadze is the husband of former Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze, who is now part of the opposition.