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Georgian Opposition Leader's Relative Dismissed From Diplomatic Post

Maya Panjikidze is the sister of the wife of Irakli Alasania (pictured).

Maya Panjikidze is the sister of the wife of Irakli Alasania (pictured).

TBILISI -- Georgia's ambassador to the Netherlands says she was dismissed because she is a relative of opposition leader Irakli Alasania, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

Maya Panjikidze, who is the sister of Alasania's wife, has been a member of the Georgian diplomatic corps for 16 years. She has served as ambassador in The Hague since 2007 and her posting was not due to expire until 2011.

Panjikidze told RFE/RL that she was not officially informed why she has been recalled from Holland nor has she been offered another diplomatic post. She said was told that her term as ambassador in The Hague ended on March 14.

But she said she was told unofficially that she was dismissed in the wake of an incident in which a senior Georgian official and his wife were suspected of shoplifting on a visit to the Netherlands but were subsequently exonerated. The official reportedly felt Panjikidze did not provide adequate support and assistance to him and his wife.

She added that she suspects that she was fired because of her family ties to Alasania.

Panjikidze told RFE/RL she has always considered herself a representative of the Georgian people, not of the government. She said all aspects of Georgia's foreign policy are acceptable to her.

Panjikidze says she has no intention of going into politics. She said she may seek work in a local school as a German language teacher. Her previous diplomatic posting was as ambassador in Berlin from 2004-07.

Alasania, chairman of the Alliance for Georiga, is Georgia's former ambassador to the UN and a prospective opposition candidate in the Tbilisi mayoral elections in May. He is also being tipped as a potential presidential candidate.

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