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Kitsmarishvili continues to accuse Government

By Temuri Kiguradze
Thursday, November 27
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the former Georgian Ambassador to Russia gave a press conference on November 26 in Tbilisi in which he once again accused the Georgian Government of starting the August conflict. He also touched on the topic of the media freedom in the country and promised to “sue [President] Saakashvili” to make him give his shares in the popular Rustavi 2 TV channel back.

His appearance at the televised session of the Temporary Parliamentary Commission investigating the August conflict, which ended with him walking off after one of the members(head of parliamentary commission for security and defence Givi targamadze) threw a pen at him, has created a wave of reaction in Georgian political circles. Representatives of the opposition hailed Kitsmarishvili’s actions. “We need more people from the present Government to do the same thing he did,” said leader of the United Opposition Levan Gachechiladze. Eka Beselia, another opposition leader, didn’t rule out the possibility of Kitsmarishvili being arrested by the Government because his statement contradicted the official position. At the Commission session on November 25 Kitsmarishvili said that the Georgian Government didn’t make enough effort to avoid the conflict with Russia and didn’t use the opportunity to solve the conflict in a peaceful way. He noted that the Georgian authorities speculated that the West supported the plan to resolve the conflict by force.

“On June 19 Iakobashvili said in my presence, and also in the presence of other Georgian representatives at a meeting held in Moscow, that the Georgian side could take over Tskhinvali in three hours; when I told him that Russia would respond, Iakobashvili said: ‘the Russians will not even lift their fingers over this.’ I also talked about this with Grigol Vashadze, the Deputy Foreign Minister, in late July, and was very surprised that even Vashadze, who in the period starting from January was adhering to the so-called peace line, said that we had the capacity to do that [regain control of Tskhinvali] in a few hours,” said Kitsmarishvili on November 25 at the televised session of the Commission. He added that he was “absolutely sure that Russia was fully informed and fully ready for the launch [of the military actions]; it had even sent senior television correspondents to Tskhinvali in advance. We were dragged into this process and have done exactly what the Russians wanted us to do.”

The former Ambassador says there is nothing new in what he provided. “This information has already been published in many reports, including those by international observers. I’ve just added some information from my informal talks with representatives of the Government.”

The President has already denied all the accusations of ex-Ambassador. A statement issued on November 26 by his administration describes Kitsmarishvili’s accusations as “inaccurate.” “Although Mr. Kitsmarishvili has served the Government in the past, none of his service was in areas involving military or strategic affairs, and so his claims that he was part of such discussions are simply untrue,” says the statement, adding that “We [the President’s administration] are proud that everyone has the full freedom to express his or her views, inform and sometimes even misinform the public.”

During his testimony on November 25 members of the Commission pressed Kitsmarishvili on why he was not informing the Foreign Ministry about his activities in Moscow. The information notes sent by the Embassy in Moscow to the Foreign Ministry in Tbilisi, according to the MPs, mainly concerned issues not having crucial importance, like sports and cultural activities. Commission Chair Paata Davitaia said he would ask the General Prosecutor’s Office to look into this matter. At the press conference Kitsmarishvili stated that these accusations of “professional negligence” were not “serious.” However he also considers it possible that he will be arrested by the Government. He denied any kind of parallel between him and ex-Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who was forced to leave the country after he accused Saakashvili and his allies of a number of crimes including corruption. “I don’t want to be a hero,” said Kitsmarishvili, adding that he is looking forward to cooperation with different political forces in Georgia in order to help “change the situation in the country.” He also noted that those changes should be peaceful because another revolution would show that Georgia is a “recidivist” state.

The Temporary Commission to Study Russia’s Military Aggression and Other Actions Undertaken with the Aim of Infringing Georgia’s Territorial Integrity has already taken testimony from a number of senior Georgian military and political figures including former Prime Minister of Georgia Lado Gurgenidze and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. Within the next few days President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will testify before the Commission.