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Compiled by Liana Bezhanishvili
Tuesday, February 23
Christian Democrats talk about 'potato mafia'

Kviris Palitra reports that the Christian Democrats' Levan Vephkhvadze has spoken in Parliament about a 'potato mafia' and stated that he will meet the President in the Parliament and give him Javakheti potatoes.

Vephkhvadze said that after the Russian bases were removed from Akhalkalaki in 2006-2007 Mikheil Saakashvili promised Javakheti residents that the Georgian Government would buy their potatoes for the Georgian Army and this would improve their situation. However this has turned out to be a false promise.

"In autumn Javakheti citizens saw trucks bringing tonnes of cheap and low-grade Turkish and Armenian potatoes into Georgia. The President’s promise has been forgotten and those potatoes were being brought in for the Georgian armed forces," he said.

The Christian Democrats have asked the Georgian Government where the President’s promise had disappeared to. They also want to know who is leading the potato mafia which has left the Javakheti peasantry without subsistence and forced low-grade potatoes on Georgian soldiers.

Alliance accuses President of insulting journalists

Kviris Palitra writes that the Alliance for Georgia has called President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili’s 17 February London statement cynical and abusive to Georgian journalists.

“The President’s statement that the Government is devoted to Georgian media freedom is false, because the situation created in Georgia is quite the contrary,” stated Sozar Subari. He added that the Government controls the 7 national TV channels and it is absolutely clear who really owns these stations. Most owners of TV companies in the regions also have close relationships with the authorities and the National Movement, and therefore Saakashvili was lying to the international community and also Georgian citizens.

According to the Alliance’s co-Chair the President’s statement that there is not enough objectivity and professional skill in Georgian journalism is abusive. “Journalists do not have the opportunity to display their professional skills. They cannot question the leading members of the Government, they have no freedom to make independent reports, they have no right to host their own talk shows and viewpoint programmes,” stated Sozar Subari.

Irakli Okruashvili - All means of removing the Government are now admissible

"Only a naive person might believe that there is a theoretical chance of Saakashvili dissociating himself from Merabishvili or me being ‘reconciled’ with Saakashvili. I do not need to give the reasons for this," exiled former Minister of Defence Irakli Okruashvili states in an interview with Kviris Palitra.

"Despite the Russian-Georgian War, the November 7 2007 events, the non-existence of free courts, the infringement of human rights etc. the Georgian Government has not been discredited. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, thousands of dollars are being paid to American image makers. Five companies have been hired to undertake Government PR in Europe alone and 45 million USD spent on one film, the one with Andy Garcia in it. Vano Merabishvili does the same thing, producing books calling him a "powerful Minister" which are edited in Russia. Secondly, there is continual American propaganda about the inconvertibility of Misha. Their idea that ‘stability is better than democracy in Georgia’ leads them to praise Misha, and Europe is taken in by this. The ‘unproductiveness’ of the Georgian opposition also creates problems. However despite all this, scepticism towards Saakashvili is increasing in the conservative circles of Europe," Irakli Okruashvili says.

"As for Zurab Noghaideli’s meeting with Putin, I have the impression that today there is an unhealthy environment in Georgia, as there was in the time of Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s Government, when people were always being called traitors. Elections are the way to bring about change for me, but what methods are others using? Elections are the way to take the Tbilisi Mayor's post, and for me the way to force Saakashvili’s resignation. Zura has chosen a way which will heap opprobrium on him and I respect his bravery. As for what he seeks to achieve by these meetings I cannot comment. I am interested in the purpose of negotiating with Russia without precondition. When I meet him I shall ask him about it," Okruashvili continues.

"The opposition should neutralise the justifiable scepticism towards it in society. When there is no plan for engineering a protest wave, even one without the goal of Saakashvili’s resignation, this certainly intensifies people’s disappointment. Nothing will ever happen until we see the necessity of conducting new protests demanding the resignation of Saakashvili using all methods," Irakli Okruashvili states.

"I am not working on creating a new wave of protests for the sake of it. I am working on the most effective way of achieving the goal. A life and death struggle had been underway with this regime for two years; Misha shoots bullets at us but still fails to persuade us that there is a purpose to his games. Such idiocy takes place only in Georgia. I will serve whoever will sacrifice himself to achieve the goal. Today all methods are admissible for the removal of the Government," Okruashvili concludes.