Eurasia: Georgian Ombudsman Says Saakashvili's
Authoritarianism Must End
30 –Tbilisi's public defender says that the authoritarianism of
Mikhail Saakashvili must be replaced by genuine democracy if Georgia is
avoid losing even more than it has up to now, and Sobzar Subari called
"all forms of peaceful protest" to persuade the government to make
statement issued last Thursday and posted online on Friday, Subari said
"a government that … listens only to itself and respects only its own
judgment has lost the capacity for proper decision making," something
said Moscow had "taken advantage of" to seize Georgian territory
warned that "new disasters are to be expected" if the government does
not reverse its course toward greater authoritarianism, one that sadly
within Georgia, "the Russian model of authoritarian governance" that
"envisages the settlement of problems inside and outside the country by
authoritarian style, he continued, constitutes "a fifth column
for Georgia's failure." And despite that failure, the Georgian
refuses to "face the truth" and analyze this sad reality. Instead, he
continued, Saakashvili has contented himself with "shouts that 'we
won'" and other public relations efforts concerts.
Subari's statement so important is not so much his personal authority
Georgia but rather his insistence that Tbilisi lost control of Abkhazia
South Ossetia precisely because Moscow was in a position to exploit the
presence of a Georgian leader who did not feel the need to listen to
And "as a result" of this intolerance for the
views of others and for an honest discussion of Georgia's problems,"
public defender said, "from dawn to dusk we are fated to listen to
propaganda claiming that 'Misha is cool,' that everything is fine, that
and that Georgia will soon blossom."
To transform the situation from the current
to what he called "irreversible democracy, Subaria urged that the
government end the persecution of those with different opinion, promote
rule of law and honest elections, abolish state control over the media,
create a system of checks and balances within the central government.
In addition, he said, Tbilisi must rein in
power, grant real authority to local governments, introduce the
accountability, guarantee property rights, and ensure the
of freedom of assembly and protest, all things that will help end the
of those in power that Georgia belongs to them rather than to the
And while arguing that the Georgian people have a
responsibility to take action to promote these changes, he called on
international community to help: "The Georgian people do not deserve an
authoritarian regime," he said. "Georgia is ready for democracy. Help
us develop a democracy" lest the authoritarianism of the current regime
lead to "catastrophe."
surprisingly, pro-Saakashvili politicians denounced Subari's statement.
Targamadze, a senior member of the ruling National Movement Party, said
public defender was acting like an opposition politician instead of
his "immediate" duties as defined by law
was not intimidated: he said over the weekend that in July 2008 he had
submitted to the parliament a 1400-page report on the sad state of
in Georgia but that the government and its supporters had failed to
that, preferring to denounce him then as now for "political bias" and
yesterday, the ideas Subari has put forward attracted a new backer:
Kitsmarishvili, who had served as ambassador in Moscow, announced that
not "remain in Saakashvili's power structures" after the Georgian
president failed to avoid a war with Russia
(www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19625 and www.izvestia.ru/georgia1/article3121029/).
interview featured in the Georgian weekly "Kviris palitra,"
Kitsmarishvili said that Tbilisi could have avoided this conflict if it
been more careful and "if the current Georgia leadership had spent even
one percent of what is has on military needs [on addressing domestic
"the results would have exceeded all expectations."
now former ambassador added that "very highly placed Western diplomats
written that each such conversation" with Saakashvili about the need to
avoid taking steps that Moscow might exploit "had an impact for only
weeks, after which [the Georgian president's] military rhetoric
and Tbilisi fell into a carefully prepared Russian trap.
declaration and the support he is getting from people like
former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze and former prime minister
Nogaideli put those in the West who want
to defend Georgia in a difficult position, a status that Saakashvili
be fully cognizant of and willing to exploit.
appalled by Russian aggression wants to give Moscow another victory by
to overthrow Saakashvili, but at the same time, no one concerned about
of Georgia wants to see the approach that gave Moscow its initial
continue and cost the long-suffering Georgian people even more.
result, the debate concerning what to do about Georgia is likely to be
those who take a short term perspective and back someone who they know
caused many of the problems in the hope that something will turn up and
who take a longer one and recognize that only democracy and a
listen to all points of view can save Georgia.
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