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The opposition has Georgia’s police chief in its sights2009-03-03 09:36
The ultimatum given by the leader of "Georgia's Path", Salome Zurabishvili, is garnering supporters. The essence of its demand is that the president should resign by 9th April. Now the opposition has gone on the offensive against the Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, a powerful official and the main hope of the ruling "National Movement".
At the end of last week, a "rehearsal" for the spring protest actions took place. About 300 participants in the opposition "7th November" movement headed for the Georgian parliament building, which has seen many stand-offs during its existence, with the demand that the Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, should resign. In their opinion, Merabishvili is covering for policemen involved in murders.
"7th November" is a young movement that was established on 27th October last year. It was first presented on Rike Square in Tbilisi, where peaceful demonstrators were violently dispersed on 7th November 2007. Representatives of non-governmental organizations, students, as well as members of the youth organizations of several opposition parties joined the movement, which was named in memory of this lamentable event.
As the action's organizer, Dachi Tsaguria, told RIA Novosti, one of their demands is for the killers of a former soldier and participant in the fighting in the Tskhinvali region in August 2008, Roin Shavadze, to be punished. "Roin Shavadze, a sergeant for the Ministry of Defence, was killed in Batumi. He took part in the hostilities and was quite open about the fact that the Georgian state was using its soldiers as cannon-fodder," explained Tsaguria.
The police dispersed the participants in the action. The Interior Ministry's press office explained that the actions of the law enforcers were completely justified because the demonstrators had not received the permission of the mayor's office to carry out the action, as is required by law.
However, just a few hours after the rally by the "7th November" movement was broken up, accusations against the Interior Minister were being made once again. The leader of the party "Movement for a Just Georgia" and former prime minister, Zurab Nogaideli, declared that the Arabic company Rakeen Georgia, which bought the controlling stake this week in the Imedi television station, had been supplying arms to Georgia. And that no other than Vano Merabishvili is behind the company. "The Georgian authorities previously sold the Poti port to Rakeen Georgia. The company has also been involved in importing weapons into the country, for which the authorities paid $2 billion. However, the August events clearly showed that these weapons have disappeared somewhere. Now it has also got hold of "Teleimedi", so that the channel can be controlled better. I know for a fact that Saakashvili and Merabishvili are partners in the company," Nogaideli is quoted as saying by the website "Business-Georgia".
Meanwhile, according to the former prime minister's statement, his political movement holds no grievances towards Rakeen Georgia. After Saakashvili's regime is replaced, it will be free to invest in Georgia. However, Nogaideli makes two demands - that its list of partners and contracts signed over the purchase of arms should be made public.
Recently Zurab Nogaideli accused the Interior Minister of involvement in another affair connected with the commercial National Bank. The opposition also claims that funds provided by sponsors for the construction of houses for refugees found their way into Merabishvili's pockets.