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Ajar Leader Targets Georgian Premier

Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri has been in office since January 2009.

Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri has been in office since January 2009.

Levan Varshalomidze, who has headed Georgia's Ajar autonomous republic since the ouster six years ago of its authoritarian president, Aslan Abashidze, yesterday publicly criticized Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri's failure to respond positively to his repeated requests to expand the authorities of the republic's government.

Varshalomidze told a press conference in Batumi, the regional capital, that it was "unacceptable" and "alarming" that his republic's ministries could not make even "minor, technical decisions" without authorization from "a Tbilisi-based bureaucrat." He said he could not comprehend why Gilauri declined to respond to his repeated requests to rectify the situation.

Gilauri's press spokesman, Nikoloz Mchedlishvili, said on April 12 that a meeting between Varshalomidze and the Georgian government will be scheduled for later this week.

On April 8, the television station Imedi, still under a cloud in the wake of its screening of a fake news report about a purported new Russian invasion of Georgia, reported that the Ajar leadership has been asking Tbilisi to delegate additional powers for over one year. Gilauri was named prime minister in January 2009. In August 2009, Imedi reported disagreements between Gilauri and then-Economy Minister Lasha Zhvania. Zhvania was fired shortly afterwards.

Ajara has experienced an economic boom in recent years, with investors, especially from nearby Turkey, flocking to the region.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.