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Georgian Opposition Deplores 'Politicization' Of Army


The opposition makes its statement in front of the Defense Ministry.

The opposition makes its statement in front of the Defense Ministry.

The Georgian opposition staged a demonstration outside the Georgian Defense Ministry on June 2 to protest what they termed reprisals by the authorities against army officers both before and after the purported mutiny on May 5 by a tank battalion at the Mukhrovani base east of Tbilisi.

They also issued a formal appeal to the international diplomatic community to monitor closely both the investigation into the mutiny, and what they termed "alarming processes" within the armed forces.

The statement accused the Georgian leadership of the "deliberate destruction" of the armed forces. It claimed that since the five-day war with Russia in August 2008, the authorities have systematically carried out reprisals within the army, and that that process gained in intensity following the appointment in December as deputy defense minister of Bacho Akhalaya, who as deputy interior minister gained notoriety for brutal treatment of prisoners that triggered a violent uprising in a Tbilisi jail in 2006.

The statement said there is reason to believe that the authorities staged the Mukhrovani mutiny to punish military units that opposed official plans to deploy the military to quash the wave of demonstrations that began on April 9 to demand that President Mikheil Saakashvili resign.

Conservative Party leader Zviad Dzidziguri told journalists after that statement was read out publicly that the authorities seek to create a "tame" and "politicized" army, but the opposition will do all in its power to prevent this.

On June 3, Onise Mebonia, a lawyer who represents Colonel Koba Otanadze, one of over 30 people arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Mukhrovani mutiny, told journalists in Tbilisi that he has appealed to the Prosecutor-General's Office to nominate at least one independent expert to serve on the commission tasked with investigating the circumstances of the uprising.

Otanadze was apprehended following a shoot-out on May 21 during which he was received multiple gunshot wounds. Caucasus Press on June 1 quoted Mebonia as saying the medical treatment Otanadze is receiving is both inadequate and inappropriate.

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.

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