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Saakashvili responds to Alasania's paramilitary accusations

By Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, March 19
Remarks made by Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats and member of Bidzina Ivanishvili's opposition coalition Georgian Dream, have caused some controversy for what was interpreted as talk of civil war.

At a meeting with foreign diplomats in Tbilisi on March 15, Alasania claimed that the government is setting up “paramilitary groups” in western Georgia and accused President Mikheil Saakashvili of “preparing for civil war and confrontation”.

“I want to call your attention to what is happening in western Georgia; why are paramilitary groups forming? Who’s arming them?” Alasania asked. “This precisely leads us to believe that Saakashvili is not preparing the grounds for a fair and free election; he is preparing the grounds to have an official execution of the political opposition, because we are ‘the enemies of the state’, because we are ‘controlled by the Kremlin'".

As Alasania told diplomats, what he says is not an exaggeration. “Before it is not too late and before we have another Homs in Zugdidi or some other place, I am begging you, please, start reacting; we can still change these dramatic events, which we will face if this goes on before October”, when the parliamentary elections are scheduled, Alasania pleaded.

He made similar remarks accusing Saakashvili of “preparing for civil war” while speaking with journalists the next day, on March 16.

Such statements did not go unreported. Responding to these allegations, but avoiding mentioning Alasania by name, Saakashvili said in televised remarks on March 17, while visiting a greenhouse farm in Tserovani, that the opposition was trying “to drag us into an election campaign”.

Talk about civil war, allegations about paramilitary groups, and “threatening” locals in the western region of Samegrelo with scenarios of a war-battered Syrian city of Homs, is immoral and idiotic, Saakashvili stated.

“They [opposition members] think about chairs [referring to posts in government] and I think about greenhouses, enterprises, new resorts and cities, new jobs, new schools and universities, because that its my ambition. [It is] not about how the chairs will be reshuffled and among whom, including myself... Let them carry out whatever campaigning they want in the framework of the law,” he maintained.

“But now they have threatened Samegrelo with the Syrian scenario, with the Homs scenario, I want to translate what it means – it means thousands of casualties, destruction of hundreds and thousands of buildings and leveling of cities to the ground, women with disemboweled bellies, beheaded children... that means catastrophe,” he continued.

Saakashvili also reminded those present about the political conflicts of the early 1990s. “Even the raids of [notorious paramilitary group] the Mkhedrioni did not force the population of Samegrelo to give up the idea of Georgian statehood,” he said, asking the opposition not to “threaten these people”.

"Say whatever you want, but wash your mouth out before mentioning Samegrelo and the Georgian people in general, and give up playing with such issues even in your fantasies, but if you have it on your mind, keep it for yourselves and let us build and let people live,” Saakashvili asserted.

Leader of Georgian Dream Bidzina Ivanishvili also commented on Alasania’s statement. “Irakli did not say that civil war will start in Georgia. Irakli is just warning the population that armed formations are established in West Georgia and the government is preparing something like this; there will not be war,” he clarified.