Ex-PM and Tbilisi Mayor testify before the War Commission
By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, November 13
Former Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and Tbilisi City Mayor Gigi Ugulava testified before the Temporary Parliamentary ‘War Commission’ on Wednesday.
Gurgenidze, who resigned from his post last month, was the first to answer questions. The ex-Prime Minister spoke about the situation in the country before and during the conflict with Russia. He said that the Government had done its best to avoid war by direct talks with the separatist leaders and through notifying foreign partners about increased tensions in the region. “I really do not know what else we could have done to avoid the conflict,” Gurgenidze said. The former Prime Minister told MPs that neither the Georgian Government nor its Western partners had expected such a large scale aggression from Russia.
Gurgenidze hailed the Government of Georgia for coping with the crisis situation in the country, and singled out the Healthcare and Finance and Economy Ministries for their good work during the conflict. He said that despite the military action there was neither panic nor financial crisis in the country. “Georgia’s role as a transit route was not undermined - in these terms Russia has failed to reach its goal,” Gurgenidze noted. He also stated that the Government was able to maintain the stability of the currency and preserve Georgia’s position according to other economic parameters.
The former Prime Minister said that during the August war he was busy with issues concerning the financial system and economic situation, as well as coordinating humanitarian efforts with international organizations. He also said he was working closely with foreign investors during the war. “Foreign investors saw that despite the crisis, the Georgian Government was working in an organized manner and tackling the issues,” Gurgenidze told the Commission. “Investors were amazed by the sustainability of the Georgian financial system,” he added.
War Commission members asked the former PM why BP was silent when reports were spread that Russian forces had targeted its oil pipeline on Georgian territory. Gurgenidze suggested that BP’s fear that its shares would fall as a result could have been a reason for the company’s silence.
Tbilisi City Mayor Gigi Ugulava testified before the Parliamentary Commission after the Ex Prime Minister. The MPs asked the Mayor why he was in Gori during the August war and giving some directives there. Ugulava told the Commission that he had visited Gori after receiving an order from the President to resolve issues related to civil security. He said that the main civil security resources, such as emergency cars, fire engines and buses, were generally based in Tbilisi, and he had to be in the places of conflict to ensure the mobilization of these resources to protect the population.
Ugulava also answered the Commission members’ questions about his statement on August 9, in which he announced a 2-hour ceasefire. He said that the ceasefire was the initiative of Dmitry Sanakoev, and he had just announced it in Georgian, after Sanakoev had done so in the Ossetian and Russian languages.
Ugulava also touched upon the issue of a defence plan for the Georgian capital. He told the Commission that the plan existed and had been formulated by the Defence Ministry of Georgia. He said that Tbilisi had several evacuation sites prepared, including the Tbilisi Underground and other places he would not name.
The War Commission will resume its work on November 19, questioning the Chair of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic Supreme Council Malkhaz Akishbaia, Minister of Economy Eka Sharashenidze and head of the Provisional Administration of South Ossetia Dmitry Sanakoev.