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Vano Merabishvili gives an interview in Ukraine

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, November 9
Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s Interior Minister gave an interview to the Ukrainian news agency on November 8.

Merabishvili discussed the successful campaign against the so-called thieves-in-law. “Before the Rose Revolution the situation with them [thieves-in-law] was horrible. There were twice as many of them in Georgia than any other post Soviet state. They controlled the entire black business, had big money and influence. It is unbelievable, but they had a significant influence on the government as well. In reality they had been developing an anti-democratic philosophy, thereby making Georgia a criminal state.”

After massive pressure from the Saakashvili government most Georgian criminals fled to other countries which had environments they could deal with in the same manner they had operated in Georgia, such as Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and even Western Europe.

“I can prove the fact that Georgian criminals are ready to pay any amount of money to avoid extradition to Georgia. In our prisons a criminal “mentality” does not exist anymore, thus they know that nothing good awaits them here”.

The Minister also referred to the existing situation with Georgia’s breakaway region so-called South Ossetia. The Minister corrected the Ukrainian journalist, when asked about Georgian-Ossetian border.

“Georgia does not have a border with South Ossetia... After the war activities, we lost 14 policemen, who patrolled zones bordering South Ossetia along with the frontier guards. Those policemen died from mines and sniper bullets. Since the war, our policemen move only in armored vehicles or wearing bullet-proof vests”, Merabishvili said.

He stated that the mines were not left over from the war, but were put in later. “They make new minefields, they are digging entrenchments, strengthening fortifications. We and the EU monitors observe this happening. They help us to register violations of Georgia’s sovereignty”, the Minister said.

Asked about snipers shooting from the Ossetian side, he replied that there might be Russians, Tatars, Ingush, Chechens and Ossetians among them. Merabishvili mentioned that after the war there were deaths of civilians. Detentions and arrests of citizens of Georgia are frequent for violation of the so called border.

Merabishvili remains by far the most effective Minister in the government. No other minister has remained in office for such a long time. Merabishvili is also called the “backbone” of the ruling party.