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Saakashvili may be held responsible for secret arms cache

By Ana Robakidze
Tuesday, June 25
President Mikheil Saakashvili says armed caches have been arranged throughout the country under his personal direction. He considered it necessary to create secret storages as a part of a defense plan, after the August War in 2008.

"We were preparing for a guerrilla war in the event of a large-scale occupation of Georgia and have taken all measures to ensure the possibility of resistance," Saakashvili said, commenting on the fact of finding a hidden arms cache in the Samegrelo region. However, the president strictly denies all allegations that videotapes of police officers sexually and physically abusing citizens were found in one of these caches. “I believe we all understand that there were no videotapes in the arms storages,” he said.

The president’s statement immediately raised questions about his political responsibility, but he totally excludes any kind of systemic failure, saying if there were facts of violence, that might have been only on single occasions.

"It's clear that there was no video, and the police may have a few dozen who were engaged in violence," Saakashvili said and expressed his hope that those involved in this grave crime will be punished.

Former Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili does not exclude the possibility of finding even more caches throughout the country. Narchemashvili says that the creation of caches should always be accompanied by issuing all necessary paperwork, which is usually labeled as secret material and can be accessed by very few from high ranking officials. According to the former minister it is a serious violation if documents related to the Samegrelo arms storage have never been issued, or the new government had never been informed about the cache’s existence.

Political analyst and chairman of the Independent Experts’ Club, Soso Tsiskarishvili, calls on President Saakashvili to cooperate with the government and reveal the location of other existing caches. The experts say that if Saakashvili was the one to issue the orders to create the caches, he should also have informed the government about it earlier, and not announce the existence of the secret arms storages after they were found by the Interior Ministry.

However, Saakashvili’s statement may also raise questions over the legitimacy of his action. Military expert Giorgi Tavdgiridze explained that creating arm caches is not a simple process and cannot be executed under a single order issued by the president.

According to Tavdgiridze, President Saakashvili simply made a public confession in crime, as in the case he really had issued a subsequent order on creating arm caches, this act can be qualified as exceeding official power. The expert says even president is not authorized to build secret arm storages without issuing a whole range of subsequent legal acts.

Tavdgiridze is also concerned over the drugs and videotapes found in the Samegrelo cache. He says similar material should not have been stored in an arms storage. He finds that fact itself to be very troublesome, making him think that there were some seriously dangerous and uncontrolled processes going on in the country.