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Opposition criticises Government's actions

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 22
On January 21 the Georgian opposition made strong statements about the audio recordings of alleged conversations between Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and Chair of Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee Givi Targamadze broadcast by the Ukrainian media on January 20. They said that the audio tape, the authenticity of which was not denied by Georgian officials, shows that the authorities had subversive intentions in sending observers to the Ukrainian elections and must be held accountable.

The audio recordings broadcast in Ukraine confirm that the members of the huge team of 1,000 plus "observers" being sent to the second round of elections are not actually qualified election observers, but soldiers, sportsmen and others with no obvious credentials for doing this work. Furthermore the tapes clearly imply that these people are being sent to Ukraine to assist one candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko, rather than impartially observe how the electoral process is being conducted, think opposition.

The Alliance for Georgia called on the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) to broadcast the full version of the tape. "The full version has been broadcast only by the Maestro and Kavkasia companies, while Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV have transmitted only a short fragment. The GPB has been silent. The GPB is obliged by law to satisfy the interest of society. We are calling for full transmission of the audio tape, which makes the Georgian Government’s illegal and terroristic activities obvious,” Co-Chairman of the Alliance, Sozar Subari, said.

Leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia Zurab Noghaideli held a special press conference on January 21 at which he said, "These recordings have confirmed that the Georgian Government is trying to influence the situation in Ukraine and Georgia by criminal means. Merabishvili and Targamadze should immediately answer for this. This is a rude interference in another country’s internal affairs,” Noghaideli said, adding that Ukrainians were very much revolted by such actions from the Georgian side. Noghaideli made a one day visit to Ukraine on January 20.

The Labour Party's Soso Shatberashvili told The Messenger, "First of all, what we have heard is not acceptable at all, but this kind of illegality should not be regarded as strange when coming from the Georgian Government, as they frequently do such things. No matter who becomes President of the Ukraine, Georgian-Ukrainian relations have already been spoiled by these actions. The result of this may be very lamentable, and include deportations of Georgian citizens, visa rejections etcetera. Trade relations will also worsen, especially if Yanukovich wins, and the present Government will be solely responsible for this,” he said.

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili has told The Messenger that the positive and friendly attitude to Georgia, as a victim of injustice in August 2008, which was prevalent in Ukrainian society has changed for the worse. "Everything which is going on in Ukraine concerning the so-called Georgian observers, seriously reduces Georgia’s prestige in the eyes of Ukrainian society. It is clear to the Ukrainian people that the Georgian Government is happy to conduct open hooliganism. The Government thinks it can take the same kind of illegal actions in another country, which has twice the level of democracy, as it does here, but now it is confused as it did not expect it actions to be broadcast to the world. The present situation between the two countries which these events have created looks like a time bomb about to go off which will profit only The Kremlin,” Tsiskarishvili said.

Givi Targamadze has responded by acknowledging that he did have the recorded conversation with Merabishvili about sending observers to Ukraine for the second round of elections but the Ukrainians know everything that has been said and done. The Georgian "observer" contingent for the first round of elections was larger than that of the rest of the world put together.

The second round of Ukrainian elections is to be held on February 7, between leader of the Party of the Regions Viktor Yanukovich and current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko came only fifth on the first ballot. Yushchenko stated on January 21 that he was supporting neither candidate. "There is no difference between Yanukovich and Tymoshenko,” he said.