Interview with expert Gogi Khutsishvili
Compulsory cohabitation in Georgia goes on with difficulties. The New Year-Christmas truce, whose manifestations was Mikheil Saakashvili’s and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s visit to the Patriarchate, didn’t last long. Everything returned to its ‘old course’: the Prosecutor’s Office continues publishing of scandalous materials about former high-ranking officials, while ‘National’ opposition, headed by the President, is opposing the authorities. We spoke with expert Gogi Khutsishvili, who talked about the President’s recent initiatives.
G.K. – The President’s initiative about economic amnesty is conditioned by desire to amnesty crimes of this type committed in previous authorities’ times. It seems that the ‘Nationals’ are expecting new legal proceedings knowing that they won’t stop and want to hamper it. In case such a law is enacted investigation will be hindered. I mean, evidence will have to be collected and each case be legally evaluated.
Q. – Can the initiative about economic amnesty be connected with fear that soon, presumably, investigation of elite corruption facts will start?
A. – Of course it will start. President’s initiative about economic amnesty serves exactly this purpose.
Q. – President’s one more initiative concerns banning publication of the materials reflecting a person’s private life. By the way, people’s temper was worked up by Saakashvili’s declaration that his government didn’t publish such materials.
A. – Video stuff spread by the Prosecutor’s Office was shot exactly during the old government’s times and was used for blackmailing. Of course, state’s interference in a person’s private life is inadmissible unless it deals with crime and even in this case the procedure is strictly defined. I think making public the material reflecting private life is inadmissible. The President’s initiative is part of a political game and it again may be connected with current legal procedures.
Q. – The video spread by the Prosecutor’s Office is the most scandalous after the prison scandal. By the way, Vladimer Bedukadze, the author of videos reflecting the inmates’ torture has returned to Georgia and he gave new facts and names of high-ranks to the investigation.
A. – Bedukadze is a courageous man but at the same time he is a person connected with the system exposed by him. He too was part of the system. It’s clear that he distanced himself from it but he belonged to it, didn’t he? Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to obtain the film. In case his participation in tortures is proved, he too must be held responsible despite the fact that his video made great change in people’s consciousness.
Q. – Last week it was more clearly outlined that the ‘National Movement’ and the President are trying to make us believe that the new authorities have changed the foreign policy vector. The former ruling team cites Bidzina Ivanishvili’s declaration made during his visit to Erevan when he gave positive evaluation to the idea of restoration of Sukhumi-Tbilisi –Erevan railway.
A. – Bidzina Ivanishvili’s given declaration cannot be considered as change of political vector. At the same time we were pursuing very hopeless neighborhood policy. Regional policy must be changed and the signs of this are seen already. Namely, it’s the initial stage but still Georgian-Russian dialog has started. Change in Georgian-Russian relations may condition changes in Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian –Ossetian relations. Besides, Georgian-Armenian relations are also strategic. By the way, Ivanishvili’s declaration that Armenia that combines good relations with Russia, America and NATO is exemplary doesn’t mean that we have to copy Armenian-Russian relations. By no means. Ivanishvili just spoke about the meaning of balance and regulation.
The ‘National Movement’ is doing its best to establish the idea in the West as if Bidzina Ivanishvili is changing the strategic course that by no means corresponds to the truth. In the West there still are forces supporting the ‘Nationals’ and they may use the mentioned arguments. My concern is caused by the fact that the authorities have no offices, agencies or groups that would counteract this. Actually, such counter-measures should be taken; there should be the mechanism of prevention and counter measures. They realize the necessity but I see no mechanisms yet. It’s obligatory for the authorities to supply objective information to the West. They are being discredited but no measures are taken to stop it.
Q. – In the 2012 report of the Freedom House Georgia is mentioned in the category of ‘partially free’ countries. As a matter of fact, there is one interesting detail – in this report the fact of detaining of the previous authorities’ high-ranks is stressed but not the torture of prisoners or heavy facts of pre-election campaign.
A. – Our inclusion in the above mentioned category is due to the situation that we had before October. I think our advance in this report should be better reflected. Namely, the atmosphere of fear has been eliminated and the citizens feel themselves to be more free. I think in the next year report the progress must be reflected in more details. I don’t agree with those who think that legal proceedings are shortcoming of the new authorities. As it seems, the Freedom House was influenced by subjective picture that has been created in the world about the post-October Georgia. After the elections detainment of about 30 people was explained by legal basis, not a single person was arrested for nothing. I agree with you that the prison scandal is not stressed. Actually, it was a decisive factor. Q. – According to ex PM Vano Merabishvili, budgetary crisis is impending over Georgia. Do you think the threat is real?
A. – There will be no budgetary crisis. Good governance is important. It was good governance that became the basis of success for Estonia that lacks all the resources.