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Anzor Baluashvili: Would any legislative body of any country have dared to ignore a request of the Pope of Rome or the Rabbinate?!

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Nodar Jinjikhashvili, aka Jini, a writer and a philosopher – born and brought up in Petkhaini, one of the neighborhoods of Tbilisi known as Georgian Jerusalem, a person who later moved to Israel and finally settled in the US offers the following maxim in his book “The History of my Suicide”: “A hangman is better than a solder: he kills scoundrels, while a solder kills innocent, law-obedient people” – do you agree with this? That was the quastion I asked a well-known jurist and diplomat – Anzor Baluashvili – a person who was the First Deputy Attorney General, and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Izrael. Presently, Mr. Baluasjvili works as an expert-consultant for international organizations.

– I know the maxim, and have always been trying to find some optimal explanation and agree with Mr. Jinjikhashvili, but in vain. A solder is a symbol of independence and freedom empowered with the right to defend his countrymen. If a solder does not go ahead and kills an enemy he exposes to danger not only his own life, but the independence of the country as well as freedom and the perspective of normal life for his countrymen.

A hangman is a recruited killer. He does not lead and regulate his work based on general humankind and moral substances; he acts as a killer, an ordinary killer. He does not know whether a person sentenced to death has actually committed the crime or not: we do know a number of verdicts that led to killing innocent people!

A solder does not kill peaceful population, and if he does he becomes a hangman.

– Even when the army is used against local population, say against the rebel forces, like in North Africa and some other countries?

– Of course, even then! By all means, if the protestant do not use weapon.

–  Heavy burden and huge responsibility are vested on a professional working for the law enforcement bodies, and first of all for the prosecution – they have to make a decision related with the future of a person. Your experience also proves that. You have mentioned a verdict. Does any of your verdicts bother you even now, thinking it was not just and fair? Generally, how justice can be administered impartially?

-Law enforcement bodies represent a special phenomenon. The most significant is the honesty and ability of a professional to investigate the case, he was assigned to, in details and without mistakes. Sometimes impartiality gets transformed into self-esteem. That is not healthy. A mechanism should be developed that would exclude such developments. I shall be open and tell you that I had a case when the prosecutor’s approach was important, and I was trying to strengthen it.  The above is not correct. However, even raising the issue to exclude such cases is utopia. In such a case, a person should have an absolutely objective supervisor who would convince him that such deviation is not correct. That is when a person feels pangs of conscience.

The morality of the court system is conditioned by its absolute independence.

There were cases during my working experience when I stubbornly tried to push the line; there were cases when I took into consideration the opinions of some particular elite. That should be  excluded.

Ale Shushanashvili, a former Deputy Attorney General, and I often debated on how to improve the situation and how to administer justice. I thought, and I still think, and nobody will be able to make me change my mind that justice is an independent branch of the state power.Court should be comprised of persons selected by people and the Council of Justice should be efficient! That’s when justice cannot be corrupted.

– What would you say about your particular mistake?

– I have made a mistake that has been bothering me up to now… that time I worked as an investigator of the hugest cases. It resembles a detective history, very interesting. However, it will take us back, long ago, and it involves a lot. Hence, I’ll be short: I remember well, it was July 12. Aron Takidze, then Attorney General, assigned me to a strange murder case.

The victim was a young lady whose corpse was accidentally found in a coach on the plot of land in Gldani district. The land had been transferred by the State to workers and employees for their personal agricultural purposes. Everything was very vague; we worked slowly; put small details together that led us to a potential murderer – a young guy, the husband of the deceased. I demanded pre-trial detention, and the Attorney supported the prosecution.

Pre-trial detention is no trifling matter.

We proceeded with the investigation and found out that the deceased young lady was an absolute double of the wife of our suspect who just had fled away due to some family conflict.

Of course, the truth was revealed: we found a real murderer who was sentenced to what he deserved. All the accusations were relieved from the innocent guy. However, it is still very hard to think that he spent two weeks in KGB isolated ward due to the mistake of the investigation

– Did you meet the former suspect after that?

– No.

– You have just mentioned that a professional and a human being oppose each other in an investigator, and that any deviation to the prosecution may lead it to the wrong way. Do you exclude that sometimes getting involved in the case not having some preliminarily formed sentiments is impossible since you have some information; know facts, conditions, and processes developing within the society. I am just trying to lead our conversation to the war in Abkhazeti. You headed the investigation group of the Prosecution of Georgia studying the reasons of the war. It would have been very difficult to stay impartial in that case – Abkhazeti was taken away!

– That was the case when human and professional factors coincided. In one of the interviews with you I mentioned that Abkhazeti was a black page in the history of our country. It was a disaster.

– If you had a chance to lead that group now, would you change anything?

– We worked on the problem of ethnic cleansing. We did not study other crimes…I would tell you directly: no, I would not change anything.

–  What would you say about the death of the first President of Georgia – Zviad Gamsakhurdia? Was the tragedy a suicide or an assassination?

– The Asaval-Dasavali published my interviews about the subject. The first phase was completed and nobody, including the Parliament Commission, could change the conditions based on factual materials.

–  During the so called “Rose Revolution” you were in the center of the developments. You were working as the Secretary of the State Security Council. What happened then?

– Happened what should have happened. I was expecting that.

– Was that a revolution or coup d’etat?

– Of course, it was a coup d’etat in its classical form. Sad however, it had to happen, we were doomed to that.

When working for the Prosecutor’s office, I stated more than once that if it continued like that the revolution would be inevitable.  In 2001 I left the Prosecutor’s office and became a diplomat. When I arrived in Israel, Georgian Embassy, I once again became sure of the authority of our President due to what he had done for the Jewish. Israel tried to help us in every possible way,  and were absolutely open with us. That was when I felt my helplessness: it turned out that I did not know anything that was happening in my country, and I found out that in Israel. One of the well-known public figures told me: You are in the conditions Israel was in 1950. You will either improve the situation or you will get destroyed.

– Why did he draw that parallel?

– At the end of 1949, Isser Harel, a newly appointed head of Mossad, secret service of Israel, who worked on the position for 37 years, was talking with  Ben-Gurion, the Prime-Minister. Isser Harel was from Vitebsk. I saw him when he was 84-85, he was sitting and resting in the garden of Tel-Aviv. He told the Prime Minister: it seems that the God was fair to scatter us all over the world. I suffer when I think that we may have made a step against the God when creating our own State. Have we created it? I think we created some kind of conglomerate consisting of corrupt people, killers, people full of cruelty and shrewdness. Can you imagine, David, I have 16 fixed-post spies in 16 countries, with exceptional professionalism, and they have not received salaries for six months. I met a friend who still thinks I am a physicist. Poor man is still engaged in fishery. He told me that when he transports 1200 shekel worth fish from Naar to Iafa (near Tel-Aviv), his profit totals to 200 shekel because he has to pay the rest 1000 shekel to law enforcement bodies, bandits and killers. Our judges think of shekels, like others. Have we created the State?

Ben-Gurion answered: Yes, we have a lot of scoundrels but we shall build the State.

That’s what that public figure told me: if you do not act in a decisive manner, nothing will be left from you.

In 2001 our economy collapsed. Morale was devaluated. Tax system could not collect GEL 600-700 million, while tax payers paid about GEL 3.5-4 billion.

I feel sad when they say that they fired tens of thousands of corrupt people. Those people were the victims of the corrupt system. They embarked the path due to extremely cruel behavior of the State. When you cannot pay even GEL 60 to a policemen or a militia man, nothing should surprise you.

– Have you heard and kept it in your heart?

– No. Back in February 2002 I sent letters from Israel to the leaders of our country where I proved that economic crimes equaled to extremely dangerous actions directed against the State, and that in case if no radical measures were implemented, economic crime would attain the classical form of organized sabotage and subversive act. I underlined that limitless willfulness of public servants, unseen scale of devaluation of morale, total deception, ignoring timely and correct decisions, and sometimes their deliberate blocking would condition the development of catastrophic occurrences. I sent letters to the leaders of the country; I described everything in my letters, and proposed my recommendations.

– Did that condition your return to the highest governing levels?

– Exactly.

– But you did not have enough time?

– No, I did not. I arrived in August.  We held two or three very acute meetings but it was in vain. I told the President about that at the meeting of the Government. Cardinal measures should have been conducted. We had all the resources to improve the situation.

– In one of the interviews Mr. Shevardnadze mentioned that the Government was planning to fight against corruption but could not due to lack of time.

-That’s true. Neither the time nor the situation worked for us. You said that I was in the center of the developments in November 2003. Yes, that is true and the coup d’etat did not lead the country to the bloodshed, which once again proved humanism and democracy of the then President – Shevardnadze. When some people started talking about violence, he said that neither our  positions nor our lives were worth of a single drop of blood of our citizens. It is terrible to even imagine what could have happened if some madcap had opened fire. The names and the traces of our valiant “revolutionaries” would have disappeared as a glass of water poured onto hot sand.

They would have evaporated.

They knew that Shevardnadze would be against bloodshed what explains their “braveness”.

I think you will agree that the Government of Israel, its population have always been benevolent to Georgia. We have centuries of friendly relationship…however, it’s a fact that lately some crack can be observed in the relations. One of the reasons is the case of Fuchs. I am not asking about the legal aspect of the case. However, how would you evaluate as a person the resonance evoked by the criminal case?

– I am not familiar with the materials and I cannot take the luxury that some politicians or journalists can do. However, when I talked about that with some circles in Israel, and they are rather respectable people, I could not say anything against their claims related with the forms of the scandal: those people were officially invited by the highest level officials, they arrived and were arrested. The Government did not even try to avoid the crime, vice versa – they made those people commit crime.

I am sure the present tensed situation will be regulated.

– Let’s hope so, but an idiotic answer of one of the groups of “The Club of the Merry and Resourceful” to the question – what good did Hitler do? –  cannot be explained with the lack of sense of humor. The answer was that Hitler provided free gas to Jewish families. Especially unfortunate is that two ministers were among “the happy people” attending the concert. They did not protest against that. Later they apologized, but it was when a big fuss and mess occurred due to that anti-Semite phrase.

– This particular case can be explained by lack of education. It seems that either the teller of the joke, or those who were clapping have not heard anything about the Holocaust; they have no idea about misanthropy, etc. Nothing could destroy our friendship of 26 centuries, and I do not think that stupid phrase can harm that.

However, there is something we should realize: something is wrong with education, and even worse: there are problems in the selection of the Government members.

– Can I ask your comment about the law on religious confessions adopted by the Parliament extraordinary session?

– It is not difficult to regulate the problems related with different confessions. However, when the Patriarch, His Holiness requests not to rush,  wait with making the decision, I cannot justify the MPs, or whoever it may be, ignoring the request. It is inadmissible!

Would any legislative body of any country have dared to ignore a request of the Pope of Rome or the Rabbinate?!

I am not competent in the sphere, but I am sure that the principle of mutuality should have been taken into consideration. It would be better to come back to the issue.

– On the one hand our Government is opposing the Church, and on the other the gap among Georgia and Russia is becoming bigger. Meanwhile, we are standing on one bank, barking. Confusing and (I shall take the responsibility) harmful diplomacy, I would say.

– However painful and unacceptable it may seem to you I have to say: the situation in Georgia may become more dangerous if the relationships with Russia do not get regulated.

– What are you doing presently?

– As a free citizen, having experience in justice and diplomacy, I am consulting those interested in diplomatic and legal studies. The rest of time I read books and enjoy being with my grandchildren.

God is just. Georgians deserve peace, welfare and better future. I dream that integrity of Georgia is restored, which,  as you mentioned, cannot be achieved through barking and biting the neighbors.

– Are you planning to write memoires?

– No, because many will be left disappointed and I will not be able to say all the truth… it is difficult to say something for sure when you do not have enough information. My position can be expressed with the following maxim: Say “no” until you can. However, if you say “yes” push right up to the end”.

– Has anybody ever made you conduct the investigation in the wrong way, just to accuse an innocent person?

– No, I did not have such experience. Neither others nor I dared to ask my employees such a thing. Thanks God, they are alive and can confirm to the interested people. However, we always had professional debate.

Armaz Saneblidze

P.S. Our conversation lasted for a long time. More was meant than said.  My God, how right was Nodar Jinjikhashvili, the person I mentioned at the beginning of the article, saying: people who only understand what can be understood, understand very little”.

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