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Political fall-out at Ministry of Defense continues

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, November 6
Alasania warned that Georgia’s European course is at risk and intimated that the Prosecutor’s Office is following someone’s political instructions. In response, Prime Minister Gharibashvili denied that the Prosecutor’s Office activities posed a threat to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and admitted that the case is solely to do with corruption and wrongdoings within the Ministry of Defence. Gharibashvili also accused the minister of failing to run the ministry properly, pointing to a recent case where soldiers were inadvertently poisoned because of a lack of public health oversight in the soldiers’ canteen.

Furthermore, this latest round turmoil within the government has resulted in a dispute over the country’s future orientation.

The drama began to unfold on October 28, when Defence Minister Irakli Alasania was on official visits to France and Germany. The Prosecutor’s Office detained a handful of ministry officials, accusing them in the embezzlement of 4 million GEL. After his return to the country, Alasania stressed that he was “absolutely sure” in the innocence of his staff.

Alasania and his party members met with the prime minister on November 3 to discuss the issue. However, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office exacerbated the process by charging three doctors of the Defence Ministry and three managers of a nutrition company on November 4 for negligence when several soldiers suffered food poisoning. The situation encouraged the defense minister to make a strong statement against the Prosecutor’s Office, emphasizing that they fulfilled a political instruction regarding the ministry that put the country’s Euro-Atlantic prospects at risk.

Following the developments it will be hard for the Georgian Dream coalition to prove that the case was purely related to corruption deals and does not threaten Georgia’s pro-western course.

In his statement, Alasania stressed that the current process is only in the interests of Russia.

“This situation affects the army, the Defense Ministry and Georgia’s image, and this is only beneficial to Russia,” Alasania said.

Irakli Alasania’s party the Free Democrats, which have 10 MPs in parliament, has left the coalition. It will be interesting to see what steps might be taken by other members of the Georgian Dream coalition and whether the coalition somehow manages to keep its power in the body.

An curious comment was made by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who stated that the country must be run by strong state institutions and not from the background.

“The current situation has revealed that a political rivalry has had a negative effect on the functioning of state institutions, and threatens Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic intentions and the Georgian Army,” Margvelashvili said.

Many in Georgia are still certain that the Prime Minister coordinates his decisions with the previous PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.

A special statement was made by the opposition United National Movement as well. The party demanded that those who create risks for the country’s Euro-Altamntic path be named.

“No one will believe that the Chief Prosecutor Badashvili’s institution takes anti-Georgian positions through its own initiative,” MP Davit Bakradze said.