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Saakashvili shuffles the siloviki2009-03-06 17:05
Reshuffles are once again taking place in the Georgian military. Four months after his appointment, the Chief of the General Staff of the republic's armed forces, Vladimir Chachibaya, has left this post.
From now on, Chachibaya will be the first deputy defence minister. And the post that has become free will be taken by Devi Chankotadze, the former first deputy of Chachibaya. Commenting on the reshuffles, Mikheil Saakashvili remarked: "This correction has been made because we want to improve the management of the armed forces even further," Civil.ge quotes the president. "I am convinced that new programmes need to be established in order to take our army to a practically new level."
The president did not explain the essence of the "new programmes", or the basis for his "conviction". However, reports of the possible dismissal of Vladimir Chachibaya had been rumbling within the Georgian media for the last few days. It all started when the Rezonansi newspaper published an article on 27th February mentioning a statement that had already been written by Chachibaya "at his own request".
At the time, a defence ministry spokeswoman, Nana Intskirveli, called these reports "ridiculous". Yet, as it emerges that a week later, she herself acknowledged this "foolishness". "Vladimir Chachibaya is an absolutely suitable candidate for the vacant post of first deputy defence minister. He fully meets all the requirements," she told Civil.ge.
History fails to mention which requirements Chachibaya did not meet as chief of the General Staff. It is interesting that his predecessor in this post - Zaza Gogava - heard the same explanations from Saakashvili before his own discharge. "Today the army needs to modernize, and this modernization will be carried out by a new chief of the General Staff", the Regnum news agency quoted the president as saying.
The Georgian army is being restructured in accordance with the requirements worked out as part of the cooperation between Georgia and NATO. A report recently released to the public by the Defence Minister David Sikharulidze, "The defence minister's vision for 2009", related the reforms being carried out to fulfil these criteria.
At the start of the year, one of the military reforms took place. In January Chachibaya himself told RIA Novosti that water-borne equipment and the entire structure of the Georgian navy was now going to be managed by the coastguards of the border police under the Interior Ministry, and all flying apparatus and the air force personnel of the Interior Ministry would now be managed by the Ministry of Defence. "There is close cooperation between the Defence Ministry and Georgia's Interior Ministry, therefore if there is a threat to our country's security all our substructures will work together in a coordinated manner," he explained.
The Georgian media is linking Vladimir Chachibaya's enforced move to the Defence Ministry with machinations by the deputy minister Bacho Akhalia, who is acting in support of the Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. "Colonel Chachibaya is an experienced soldier and a principled officer, and the dual leadership in the army was unacceptable for him," the expert Koba Liklikadze told the Tbilisi radio station "Svoboda" (Freedom). "This was obviously the reason for his resignation."
However, recently Chachibaya himself spoke of the effectiveness of merging with the Interior Ministry. He was probably forced to make such a statement. It is obvious that ever since August the current regime was now no longer hoping for support from the military structures, therefore it decided to partly resubordinate them to the loyal Interior Ministry.