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Doubts Regarding Burjanadze's Claims

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, December 29
The possible bargain between then opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze and president-elect Mikheil Saakashvili after the presidential elections in January 2008 has become the subject of discussions among the Georgian society for the last several weeks. Based on allegations published by Asaval-Dasavali newspaper on December 13th, Gachechiladze demanded several millions for opening a bank in exchange for securing the downturn of street protest rallies against Saakashvili’s inauguration.

Being named as the source of information Nino Burjanadze’s husband, Badri Bitsadze the former Deputy Interior Minister and Head of Border police continued accusing Gachechiladze of taking bribe from Saakashvili in an interview with Asaval-Dasavali in December 2010. After the controversial statements made by the engaged sides, Levan Gachechiladze, the leader of Georgian Party told Kavkasia TV on December 28th that he had been asked to meet and congratulate Saakashvili on his victory by Nino Burjanadze, then the acting President to avoid a possible civil confrontation. Denying the claim of Burjanadze family, Gachechiladze explained that none of his steps had been made without the National Council who united several oppositional parties at the time.

Speaking of Bitsadze as a man “hiding behind his wife’s dress” Gachachiladze promised to give adequate answers in response to the slander from the Burjanadze family. “With no documentary evidence this dirty and sick campaign remains gossip and I won’t discuss the matter,” he said stressing Burjanadze’s “United National Movement-like mentality”. Burjanadze who according to Gachechiladze has failed to politicize the “nice and right” idea of the Public Representative Assembly is a political “mediator” who should be far from the Georgian oppositional spectrum.

It was not until December 26th when Nino Burjanadze the leader of Democratic Movement - United Georgia broke her silence and stated that the secret meeting between Gachechiladze-Saakashvili had been held the next day after their joint meeting in January 2008. “The society should know whom it can trust,” she said adding that Gachechiladze or the “Georgian Party can not be trusted”. Having attended the meeting, Davit Usupashvili the leader of Republican Party which was among the nine oppositional parties at the National Council denied that such a bargain took place between Gachechiladze-Saakashvili, he told The Messenger. Gachechiladze, according to Usupashvili only told the President that politics was not the goal of his life and that he had other dreams, like banking.

Worrying that the Gachechiladze-Burjanadze clash has poorly affected the Public Representative Assembly, Eka Beselia, the leader of the public movement Solidarity with Illegal Prisoners has suspended her authority at the executive council to be fully disengaged from the ongoing processes and seeks to avoid identification with Burjanadze. Wondering why Burjanadze had been offering Gachechiladze to lead her party if she doubted his honesty, Koba Davitashvili leader of People’s Party told The Messenger that the inter-confrontation among the opposition would only serve the Government’s interests. Doubting that the much talked about political rumors could have been planned by the Georgian Government, Gia Tsagareishvili member of Our Georgia – Free Democrats condemned the political confrontation between the oppositional representatives and advised them to discuss their problems themselves but leave the Georgian people alone.

Local NGOs working on the issue failed to ask Public Defender Giorgi Tugushi to investigate the case. Thus Nana Kakabadze chair of the Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights NGO asked Eka Beselia, as the ombudsman of the Public Representative Assembly to create and chair the special commission for investigating the case. “There were lots of questions among the society about the falsified elections in January 2008 even before Asaval-Dasavali published the article. Thus the commission would be oriented on getting thorough information from any side engaged with Gachechiladze-Burjanadze issue,” Kakabadze said hoping that all the questions would be soon answered.

No comments have been made by the President’s Administration so far. As Manana Manjgaladze the President’s Spokesperson had said on December 21st “This issue is not within the sphere of their interest.” But analysts have a different opinion. Wondering why Saakashvili-Merabishvili had shared their opinions with Burjanadze-Bitsadze, political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze found it difficult to talk about the issue without any evidence. “Rumors about the possible bargain have been mentioned just after the protest rally was suspended in 2008. People then wondered why Gachechiladze had taken a step back…” the analyst told us, adding that in case the rumors will be proved, the main responsibility for creating the basis for any bargain will definitely involve the Government.

Condemning the possible bargain, analyst Nika Chitadze spoke of the negative impact the whole story has on the ratings of the opposition in general. “Fortunately we have progressive oppositional parties but the other part of the Georgian oppositional spectrum has been trying to fight for the unofficial post of a “leader” through different methods,” Chitadze told us, condemning the “unhealthy competition” among the parties which hinders the creation of the real “political elite”. Wondering why Burjanadze had been standing next to Gachechiladze at the protest rallies if she had been aware of a bargain before, Chitadze suggested that there could have been some “private” confrontation between the pro-Russian Burjanadze and Gachechiladze who have been trying to gain some profit.