Saakashvili, Georgia’s corrupt president

This video from 2009 is called Dictator ‘Saakashvili is a threat to Georgia’- former parliament speaker Nino Burdzhanadze.

From InterPressNews in Georgia:

Shocking amounts of money had been spent on luxury from state budget – Irina Imerlishvili

15:42 17-04-2013

Irina Imerlishvili, the Chairwoman of the parliamentary committee of procedural issues, says “shocking amounts of money” had been spent on luxury of the President, his family, relatives, as well as other current and former officials.

Imerlishvili said at a press conference held along with Davit Saganelidze, that she has relevant documents, which she had requested from the State Security Service, and which became accessible for her by the mediation of the Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Imerlishvili’s information, living costs of Mikheil Saakashvili’s cook

That chef came all the way from Spain, Dutch NOS TV says. They say the wage of Saakashvili’s Spanish cook was more than 12,000 euro a month. And that Saakashvili, after apparently eating too much of that Spanish cook’s food, had been to a slimming course in Austria together with a crony. That had cost Georgian taxpayers over 53,000 euro.

amounted to half a million laris.

‘”Shocking amounts of money had been spent from the state budget on luxury of the President, his family, relatives, as well as other current and former officials, including the Tbilisi Mayor, governors and MPs. For example, our colleagues, including previous MPs Koba Khabazi, Alana Gagloeva, Zurab Tchiaberashvili, David Sakhvarelidze, Mariam Sajaia, George Gviniashvili, Sergo Ratiani, and others met the new year together with the president in Dubai, which cost 240,000 laris.

Which is 115,000 euro, according to NOS TV.

In addition, the president bought expensive presents – a mobile phone and a bracelet – to one of my female colleagues. Expensive presents were given to others too, including Russian journalists. The president and the Tbilisi mayor spent 115,000 laris in an Austrian resort’, Imerlishvili said.

Georgian president’s anti-Armenian prejudice

This 20 September 2012 video, from when Mikheil Saakashvili still had dictatorial power in Georgia, is about police torturing prisoners in Georgia.

Mikheil Saakashvili, contrary to his former colleague Mubarak of Egypt, is still president of Georgia.

Even though his party lost the parliamentary elections. Indignation among Georgian voters about horrible sexual torture of prisoners was so big, that even Saakashvili’s electoral fraud could not help him to win.

Saakashvili has a record of stirring up hatred against South Ossetians and Abkhazians. He started a bloody war to reconquer South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He counted on his chum George W Bush in the White House in the USA to help him in that war. However, not even George W Bush was that crazy to go all the way to a nuclear world war against Russia. Saakashvili lost the war. The war which cost the impoverished Georgian people many dead, many wounded and much money.

If Saakashvili was not stirring up hatred against South Ossetians or Abkhazians, then he was stirring up hatred against gay people, or against opposition party supporters.

Or he was stirring up hatred against Armenians. Unfortunately, not was, but is.

From the site in Georgia:

Armenian Church in Georgia ‘Condemns’ Saakashvili’s Statement on Chakhalyan

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 27 Jan.’13 / 18:57

President Saakashvili’s “incorrect” statements on the release of Vahagn Chakhalyan, an activist from Georgia’s pre-dominantly ethnic Armenian populated region, who was serving a prison term for charges related to weapons, armed hooliganism and acts against public order, are contributing to “dissemination of anti-Armenian sentiments,” Armenian Church in Georgia said in a statement on January 26.

Chakhalyan was released on January 24 as a result of a broad amnesty passed by the Georgian Parliament late last year after serving four and half years of his ten-year prison term.

President Saakashvili condemned release of Chakhalyan and described him as “the enemy of the Georgian state”. He said that Chakhalyan was released upon the request of head of the Armenian Apostolic Church Karekin II to Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili; he also said that PM Ivanishvili “committed a grave misconduct” by allowing Chakhalyan’s release and added that the PM did so in order “to please” Russia.

UNM [Saakashvili’s party] secretary general Vano Merabishvili, who was the interior minister when Chakhalyan was arrested, also condemned Chakhalyan’s release and described him as “a symbol of struggle against the Georgian statehood”, “inspirer of separatism in Javakheti”, “emissary of Russian military intelligence” and “major enemy of the Georgian statehood in Javakheti”.

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia released a statement on January 26 saying that it “condemns” remarks of this kind by the President and other UNM leaders.

With such statements, it said, the President and former interior minister acknowledged that “there actually was no justice when UNM was in power”.

“If Chakhalyan was really a separatist and an agent, why was not he convicted under relevant articles of the criminal code? There is one explanation to this paradox: the previous authorities used the justice system against their political opponents,” the statement reads.

“Moreover, President Saakashvili allowed himself to mention the name of His Holiness, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, saying that Vahagn Chakhalyan was released upon His Holiness’ request. We would like to highlight that this request was based on humanistic beliefs and had originated from Chakhalyan’s parents’ appeal which could not have remained without the attention of the Spiritual Pastor of All Armenians,” the statement reads, adding that Chakhalyan was released because the law on amnesty applied to him.

It called on politicians “not to use for their short-term political objectives issues, which directly concern peace and calmness in our multiethnic homeland, as well as relationship between our brotherly people of Georgia and Armenia.”

“We are convinced that despite all political or other circumstances, our nations will continue strengthening and deepening good-neighborly and fraternal relations. Ethnically Armenian citizens of Georgia were and will continue to be devoted sons of Georgia,” the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia said.

Chakhalyan, who was with one of the Akhalkalaki-based groups which staged several protest rallies in 2005 against withdrawal of the Russian military base from Akhalkalaki and which was calling for an autonomy for the Javakheti region, was arrested in July, 2008 and initially charged with illegal keeping of weapons; later more charges were added involving hooliganism, acts against public order and resisting officials for incidents dating back for 2005 and 2006 including the one when protesters stormed a court chamber and a building of the Tbilisi State University’s local branch in Akhalkalaki. His supporters condemned Chakhalyan’s arrest and consequent conviction as politically motivated.

Georgian dictator Saakashvili can’t even win rigged election

This 19 September 2012 video is called The police tortured underage prisoners in Georgia.

By Clara Weiss:

Incumbent President Saakashvili’s party defeated in Georgian election

3 October 2012

Incumbent Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded defeat Tuesday in parliamentary elections held the previous day, paving the way for a transfer of power to a coalition headed by the richest man in the country, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Saakashvili’s National Movement suffered substantial losses in a clear vote against the man who came to power in 2003 at the head of the US-backed “Rose Revolution.” Shortly before Georgians went to the polls, the largest anti-government protests since 2003 took place in Tbilisi, involving an estimated 100,000 people.

According to the latest figures, Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream alliance won 53 percent of the vote. His party was founded only in April of this year and has no parliamentary representation. Saakashvili’s party received just 41.7 percent nationally and fared much worse in the capital city of Tbilisi.

The figures suggest that Ivanishvili’s party will get about 93 of the 150 seats in parliament, with Saakashvili’s National Movement taking around 46 seats. Some 11 seats are still unclear.

Saakashvili will remain as president until presidential elections set for next year, and Ivanishvili will become prime minister.

Saakashvili’s policies in recent years made clear that the so-called “Rose Revolution” had nothing to do with genuine democracy. Rather, the political overturn was driven by the efforts of the United States to extend its influence in the Caucasus and other former Soviet territories at the expense of Russia by engineering a realignment within the ruling elite in Georgia.

Saakashvili was openly anti-Russian and pro-American, and promoted a combination of free market economics and anti-Russian Georgian nationalism. Today, the country is in deep social and political crisis.

The elections themselves were far from democratic. According to the testimony of observers, there were grave irregularities in the vote count at several polling stations. Special forces stormed some polling stations to intimidate observers and falsify ballot papers in favor of the government. Even the web site of the Election Commission was attacked by hackers early Tuesday morning.

Even opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili himself did not vote as a protest against Saakashvili’s election rigging.

The country’s political future is now uncertain. Saakashvili will not be able to contest next year’s presidential election. Like his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Saakashvili had intended to assume the post of prime minister. Now his plans have been thrown into disarray by the election victory of Ivanishvili’s party.

The candidacy of Ivanishvili, who first announced his intention to run a year ago, revealed the divisions within the ruling elite in the face of increasing social polarization and growing conflicts between the great powers.

With a personal fortune of $6.4 billion—more than half the gross domestic product of the entire country—Ivanishvili is one of the 200 richest people in the world. Like most of the nouveau riche in the former Soviet Union, he made his fortune in the 1990s by buying state property cheaply and reselling it at a huge mark-up.

Since then, he has been linked closely to Russian oligarchs. In 2003, he supported the “Rose Revolution” and for some time was a major financier of the Saakashvili government. He claims to have fallen out with Saakashvili in 2007.

Both Ivanishvili and Saakashvili represent the tiny financial elite of the country and both support further cuts in social spending. Both support Georgia joining NATO and extending the country’s strategic relationship with the United States. However, unlike his rival, Ivanishvili also wants a rapprochement with Russia.

Relations between the two countries have remained tense since the Russian-Georgian war in the summer of 2008. Both Putin and Saakashvili repeatedly seek to aggravate tensions to divert attention from the social crisis in their respective countries. In the election campaign, Saakashvili once again adopted an aggressive posture towards Moscow.

For his part, Ivanishvili declared, “We have to talk to Russia to normalize our relations.” He indicated that the issue of relations with Russia was the main cause of his clash with Saakashvili in 2007.

The United States has notably distanced itself from Saakashvili in recent months while maintaining its strategic support for his government.

One reason for the deterioration of US relations with Saakashvili is Georgia’s close relations with Iran, one of Georgia’s most important economic partners. Saakashvili has sought to mediate between the US and Tehran. In the spring of this year, Saakashvili even invited an official from the Iranian Ministry of Defence to take part in a military exercise involving Georgian and US troops.

The outcome of the elections clearly shows the social and political discontent within broad layers of the population. The economic impact of the five-day war with Russia and the post-2008 economic slump are still clearly felt. Saakashvili has sought to recover the billions paid to foreign creditors by imposing massive cuts in already meager welfare and social benefits.

According to official sources, a third of Georgia’s 4.5 million inhabitants live below the poverty line which is set at an income of €70 per month. Almost two-thirds of the population (61 percent) earns less than $240 a month.

The average pension is €37, well below the poverty level. Unemployment is very high and is currently the single biggest social problem. It officially stands at 16 percent, but unofficial sources put the figure at 30 percent. In many agricultural regions, fifty percent of the population is unemployed.

Just weeks before the election, the Saakashvili government was rocked by a major scandal involving abuse in the prisons, which once again underlined the undemocratic character of the regime and outraged much of the population. On September 18, two television channels close to the opposition showed video footage of torture and the sexual abuse of a number of prisoners by their guards in the Gdani-8 prison in Tbilisi.

Thousands of people protested against the government in the ensuing days. According to reports, members of the families of prisoners stormed the Gdani-8 prison and demanded to see their friends and relatives. One woman had seen her son on the video and said, “He told me, ‘Say nothing, otherwise they will kill me’.”

Georgia has one of the highest per capita prison populations in the world, with 531 inmates for every 100,000 inhabitants—a figure even higher than in neighboring Russia.

The interior minister of the country, Bacho Akhalaia, was forced to resign over the scandal, and President Saakashvili dismissed the justice minister, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze.

Three days before the election, around 100,000 people, including many students, demonstrated in Tbilisi. The protest was led mainly by the opposition parties and student organizations.

Many of the protesters, however, spoke out against both political parties. David Parulava, a student who had protested against the ill treatment in prisons, told the online media outlet Eurasianet that the choice between Saakashvili and Ivanishvili was “a choice between bad and worse, and I’m not even sure who’s bad and who’s worse. I trust neither side.”

Is Georgia the «Beacon of Democracy» or an oasis of neoliberal dictatorship? Here.

Georgia’s ‘Mubarak’ Saakashvili threatened by revolution?

This video from Georgia is called Saakashvili should go to jail. Protests in Tbilisi.

From the Georgian International Media Centre:

The Wall Street Journal‘s “revolting index” on the risk of revolution in Georgia

Submitted by georgiamedia on Fri, 25/02/2011 – 18:48

Asked a month ago no one but the political wild men or women of the most die hard opposition parties would have suggested that there was the remotest possibility of a popular revolt in Georgia.

Asked today most would still agree that the prospects of a “day of rage” were low, but, even as Gadaffi appears to be about to drown in the blood he has shed, no one could quite rule it out any more.

Georgia has many of the symptoms if not yet the disease that infected Tunisia and Egypt – high inflation, widespread poverty and unemployment, authoritarian politics with some but limited toleration of the opposition and a mass media that no one trusts to tell the truth.

Therefore it should be no surprise that the Wall Street Journal‘s online “Source” blog puts Georgia at 18th in its “revolting index” of countries most likely to see a popular revolution. Egypt is 16th and Libya 13th. But Tunisia was 21st, some way below Georgia.

Of course, as the WSJ themselves say the “revolting index” is not scientific or predictive, just an interesting toy. It’s placement of the world’s biggest – and argumably most robust given the circumstances of mass poverty – democracy, India, at 14th illustrates the weakness: no one at all expects any mass revolt in India …. .

There are big strikes and anti government demonstrations in India right now.

But it ought to give the government in Tbilisi some pause for thought. Government actions – utility bills, transport fares, crack downs on informal traders and importers – and inactions – the failure to break up powerful economic monopolies – have all contributed to inflation and made life more difficult for those seeking to make a living at the margins of the economy. Perhaps now would be the time to ease off repression and have a more honest debate in society about the slow progress to modernisation.

As events in the Arab world are daily showing, offering concessions when you are already on the rack is no way to stop a revolt.

If the people of Georgia in a grassroots movement from below would manage to topple their “Mubarak”, strongman Saakashvili, that would be a genuine revolution. Contrary to the so called “rose revolution” which brought Saakashvili to power, and which happened because of a mixture of real grievances about the pre-Saakashvili administration and money and coaching by the CIA and similar not really democratic sides.

Georgian government refuses any compromise with opposition over economy, justice or elections: here.

USA: Let’s bring Cairo & Madison 2 our own state capitols, Feb 26! Here.

Bush’s Georgian crony Saakashvili risks war on Ossetia

This video is called Tbilisi, Georgia Police State Takes Down News Network.

From British daily The Guardian:

Georgian troops have launched a full-scale bombardment of separatists in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, raising the risk of all-out war with Russia and other former Soviet states. …

Putin made his remarks in a meeting with the leader of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, on the sidelines of the Olympic games in Beijing. Nazarbayev’s reply raised the possibility that other former Soviet states could come in on Russia’s side in the conflict.

See also here.

Expert view: Georgia’s decision to shell Tskhinvali could prove ‘reckless’: here.

South Ossetia leader says 1,400 killed in conflict: here.