Speculations over Alasania heat-up
By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 4
The detention of employees of the Ministry of Defence has raised many eyebrows as of late. The individuals were detained for alleged misspending budgetary funds when Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania was holding his official meetings in Germany. After his return, Alasania stressed that he was completely sure in the innocence of his staff.
There are two main options with regard to the current developments: either those who illegally detained the individuals should be arrested, or the minister will have to quit his post.
On October 30, Tbilisi City Court met the demands of the persecution and all five employees of the ministry were sent to pre-trial detention. The trial was held behind closed doors, as the case is classified. All the detainees deny any wrongdoing.
The detentions resulted in talk of the possible destruction and/or disintegration of the Georgian Dream coalition. Parallels were drawn to the case of the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, when ministry staff members were detained for misspending state funds and Minister Davit Kirvalidze resigned from his post. However, after 9 months, the charges were dropped, and the detainees were released. However, the minister was not reinstated to his post.
Various statements were made over the case by the prime minister and parliament chair. Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili stated that he will personally monitor the case, as the case has already “seriously affected” the ministry. He emphasized that the case was related to the communications field – installation of communication cables that was a serious failure during the August 2008 War, when the whole ministry was dependent on mobile phones. He said that in the case if the charges are confirmed, all the individuals who were involved in the case should be strongly punished. “If the charges are groundless, those who launched the case should carry responsibility, as the case has already affected the ministry and state security,” Usupashvili said.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili refrained from saying if the minister might be sacrificed because of the case. He stated that he has questions and is waiting for adequate responses. The PM promised that the Prosecutor’s Office would be extremely open and transparent regarding the issue.
Alasania is ready to answer all the questions. He said that he personally observed signing the memorandum with Silknet regarding the arrangement of the ministry cable-communication system. He intends to hold meetings with the prime minister, parliament chair and all appropriate committees. He stresses that when the case is over, those who raised the charges will have to answer for misleading the public.
Alasania is not just a minister of defense, he is a political figure, a party leader (Free Democrats) with a definite pro-western orientation. His resignation will definitely weaken the Georgian Dream. It is not accidental that the ambassadors of the United States and Switzerland expressed their confidence and support in the minister and appealed for a transparent investigation.
Alasania demands removing the classified status from the documents. The Intelligence Department, which is eligible to meet the demand, has a month to make a decision.
If we take the current developments into account and pay attention to the statement made by the Republicans over the coalition’s future, the case regarding the Defense Ministry and the president’s veto on the parliament’s initiative with regard to eavesdropping, we might notice certain features of a controversy brewing within the coalition. And that is very sad!