Wikileaks Reveals US Concern over MIA Power
By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, September 20Wikileaks continues to publish confidential materials of US Diplomats regarding Georgia. A cable created on July 12, 2009 has been released. The document is a dispatch from the US Ambassador to Georgia, about the first full meeting of the Democracy Working Group under the umbrella of the US–Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, at which US State department assistant secretaries Posner and Kaidanow both challenged the Georgian government to continue its democratic evolution noting the crucial link between establishing a pluralistic, modern democratic state and long-term stability and security.
As the Wikileaks cable reads Posner congratulated the Georgian delegation on the passage of a new criminal procedure code. Posner called it an excellent initiative and suggested the Georgian government thinks seriously about a public awareness campaign as jury trials were an unfamiliar concept in much of the post-Soviet space.
At the meeting Posner further expressed his concern that the Ministry of Internal Affairs, (MoIA), included general police functions, paramilitary functions, and intelligence. He described this as a model that often leads to excesses. The cable reads: “highlighting the lack of accountability for the police violence in November 2007, he [Posner] expressed his concern about the public perception that there is little external accountability for the MoIA or oversight of the ministry in general. MoIA Head of the Analytical Unit Shota Utiashvili explained that having a paramilitary force inside the MoIA was not an ideal situation.”
The note continues: “[Giga] Bokeria [former First Deputy Foreign Minister, now Security Council Secretary], acknowledged mistakes especially concerning the GoG [government of Georgia] crackdown on protesters on November 7, 2007, and explained the measures including more training that have resulted from the incident.”
Posner raised concerns about judicial independence, noting the perception that those close to the government are treated differently from the opposition. The sides discussed increasing transparency in both the selection and discipline of judges.
Posner noted that President Saakashvili's announcement on the direct elections of mayors created an international as well as domestic expectation, and suggested that if the Georgian government did not intend to allow for direct elections of mayors they should openly discuss the reasons for the change.
As the note reads Posner and Kaidanow also expressed the need for the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) to show a broad diversity of viewpoints.
Another cable published by Wikileaks is dedicated to a conversation with Giga Bokeria and former US Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft regarding the Defense Minister, Bacho Akhalaia.
Bokeria tells Tefft that he understands why people are concerned about the nomination of the new Minister of Defense. However, according to Bokeria, the failed Mukhrovani mutiny was evidence of the threat that continues to be posed by Russia - and that, although Sikharulidze is well-liked, he was not viewed as taking tough enough measures to root out those in the military who may be disloyal to Georgia.