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Scandal of the interview

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 13
There are scandals all the time in Georgian politics. Now the opposition are howling over Interior Minister Vano Merabishviliís interview with the Russian Kommersant newspaper. Both the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition are demanding an investigation into the claims made in the interview. The authorities however say that nothing extraordinary was said in this interview.

Analysts are trying to evaluate, or guess, what the interview was seeking to achieve. They mention that the Interior Minister rarely gives interviews to the Georgian media. It is hard to remember the last time he gave such a long and substantial interview to any Georgian media outlet, though he was happy to do so for a Russian paper.

The opposition read certain lines in the interview which angered them. For instance, the Minister stated that in certain circumstances the rule of law could be ignored for the sake of carrying out reforms. He also said that most of the advice Georgia receives from Europe is ignored and that the Russians are behind the attempt to restore the Georgian royal family, the Bagrationi dynasty. He also said that he was confident that the ruling party will win the forthcoming elections and finally, and most outrageously, Merabishvili said that during the Russian invasion Chair of the Defence and Security Committee of the Georgian Parliament Givi Targamadze offered the Russians USD 50,000 to blow up Stalinís monument in Gori, an offer he said the Russians were insulted by and refused.

The interview has given the opposition the grounds to launch a full scale attack on the administration and accuse it of violating the Constitution and law, ignoring the West, discrediting the Georgian Orthodox Church and so on. The statement that a Georgian official offered the Russians money to blow up Stalinís monument was particularly unacceptable for them. The opposition wants an investigation into all these claims and the Stalin monument issue in particular. Some officials have claimed that certain passages in the interview were misinterpreted and deliberately taken out of context. However the opposition is not satisfied with this and wants a full official investigation of the statements Merabishvili reportedly made.

Analysts are trying to work out why Merabishvili said such things. Nobody believes these statements were just accidents, slips of the tongue. Some think that Merabishvili was acting as Saakashviliís mouthpiece, others believe the statements were prompted by conflicts with the ruling party itself. Another version is that Merabishvili wants to be a more serious political figure and is trying to get rid of rivals by smearing them. So once again Georgia is embroiled in a political scandal, and more international criticism will surely follow, not to mention the other problems which usually result from instability.