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Givi Iukuridze: They were trying in all possible way to play `patriotic games” and, all this had a provocative nature

Givi Iukuridze

Irakli Okruashvili, the leader of the party “Victorious Georgia”, complains about the decision made by the Strasbourg Court on “Rustavi 2”  case because o recognition of a businessman  Kibar Khalvashi   as the owner of the TV company. Former defense minister whose activity in the power is still related to  non-investigated  high-profile criminal cases, claims for  restoration of justice   and returning back to him the “legitimate property”. The applicant ex-minister does not hide the fact that he will  transfer to the journalists of “Rustavi-2” TV company Journalists his right  of claim on the  legal entitlement while himself will  continue fight on  the political arena and  do everything in the country to “save free speech”.

We’d like to recall that Irakli Okruashvili, who was in the post of Defense Minister in the spring of 2004, arranged a bloody adventure in South Ossetia and in line with insult of  the Georgian army and Georgia (the shots of the captive Georgian soldier wandered around the world) together   eleven soldier’s were killed in this adventure (and, we lost a  control over several strategic altitudes). Then there was a promise  that we would meet in Tskhinvali on January 1, 2007. but the only thing the country has received as a result of this rhetoric was a complete disrupt of all formats for conflict reconciliation, loss of confidence and more tensioning of already acute  relations . . .  But, despite this, neither in that period nor following dislocation of  the ex-minister into the opposition, he, as apolitical figure whose decisions  brought the hardest  results to the country has never been persecuted (if not to mention a short-term arrest and  sgtand in a  obediently position before a prosecutor, for denouncing the “National Movement”) . . .

What was happening in the Defense Ministry during the time when  Irakli Okruashvili was the  minister and what steps were taken towards the conflict regions – on these issues   speaks with the “Georgian World”  the former head of the General Staff, General-General Givi Iukuridze

-, Mr. Givi,  details of armed confrontation in Samachablo in spring of 2004 are not yet known. We only know that the  Minister of Defense in that time, Irakli Okruashvili, was in favor of the military operations and entry into  Tskhinvali. But, some other  leaders of the “National Movement” seemed  to not fully agree with him. What  information do you have, what happened in that time?

In 2004, after tensioning the situation but before almost starting the hostilities, the same processes began to develop as in 2008. However, we can not say that after these events, relations have eventually collapsed, because the parties managed to mitigate  the situation and the confrontation did not turn into a large-scale warfare.

As for mistakes, in my opinion, the biggest mistake was that at the first stage, the peacekeeping battalion of the Ministry of Defense, stationed in the conflict zone, was replaced by a unit of the Internal Troops which consisted of an incompetent staff. In fact, these were people who did not have the proper training, did not have the knowledge and training. Then, when problems arose, they returned the battalion of the Ministry of Defense, but this happened later. As a result, we received that during the conflict in 2004, 11 soldiers of the Ministry of Defense were killed, 50 soldiers of the Internal Troops were captured by Ossetians at night in the building of the Vanati school. and then the whole world saw them standing on a knee in front of the Ossetian subunits. This, of course, was a shame; And secondly, it is obvious that no one has the right to devour the lives of 11 servicemen who fulfilled their obligations. By the way, when a problem arose at one of the meetings, whether  go ahead and or take other actions, I said: “If we are going to do something, we must take into account the factor of peacekeepers. This meant that even if one of the Russian peacekeepers is injured, it would be a fatal catastrophe for Georgia”.

Givi Iukuridze

-, And, How they replied on you words?

-, Some of the false-patriots started  to argue me shout ed at the meeting with the President that we should not be afraid of Russians that we should do our work, etc. The only  man there was Prime Minister  Zurab Zhvania, who shared my position and said we  needed serious thought. Herewith, after agreement with the Americans, we have decided to withdraw our subdivisions from there.

 – According to the information spread in that time , Irakli Okruashvili was the most active advocate and the initiator of introduction of troops into Tskhinvali. Is it true? 

– Not only Okruashvili, there were others too, who shared this position. For instance, I have never heard from Giorgi Baramidze that he was against of use of the force, vice versa.  They were trying in all possible way to play `patriotic games” and,  all this had a provocative nature. In that time everybody, including these individuals,  knew that our military units were not ready for serious combat operations.

As for Irakli Okruashvili, let’s be objective and say both good and bad. On the one  hand, he was inclined to have a  strong and capable army, and he thought so not only when he as the defense  minister but earlier as well, in times when he held the office of internal minister,  but, the worst thing that Okruashvili made was that he had gathered around the army people who new  absolutely nothing about the military affairs.  The institution has practically filled up with people without a relevant knowledge, training and experience. It is, to put it mildly, to destroy our armed forces.

-, And, who were these persons?  

– Levan Nikoleishvili, for example,  who worked in the verification department, then  moved  to the Foreign Relations Division and finally came to the Armed Forces without any military education. But. not only Levan there were others too, however, Nikoleishvili was a “right hand” of  Okruashvili.  The Ministry  was overcrowded by such incompetent individuals in that period,   while really learned, experienced and knowledgeable staff members were dismissed.

– By the way,  Okruashvili considered one of his  most important successes of his office a release  of the old, soviet-era  officers.

– Maybe he thought it was a success, but, do not forget that Okruashvili, himself, is not a military man . . . These releases then were followed by processes that are completely beyond of any context. The institution was filled out by the  police officers,  while the General Staff was “transferred” to absolutely incompetent persons . . . To say frankly, “wrestling”: against the soviet-era officers had not been started by Okruashvili. This started when Davit Tevzadze was the defense minister, while Okruashvili just continued `successfully” the process. Imagine, those people were dismissed from the offices who completed the higher soviet military educational institutions, and them deepened their knowledge in Germany, USA, France,  Turkey  . . .

– And, And, did all this happen because of  a lack of knowledge or it was a s purposeful policy?

– This was a purposeful policy, that, I’ll repeat, was not started at the time of this or that minister, this   a long process. They did not want in these subdivisions  people who did not obey all their  instructions, without reference to them.

– Basically, what were the reasons for dismissing these officers?  

– No reason was needed for this. There way ordinary repressions. They had arranged a network of people who were delivering  information to Merabishvili, let’s say, for instance, about this or that officer who was not as obedient as they wanted, and therefore, he/she must be dismissed. Afterwards, such officers were receiving a notice stating  to write personal application  for release, otherwise – they could be arrested. That is all about cleaning  . . .

– Can you list several persons who were dismissed in that time? 

– General Temur Loria, Colonel Temur Benidze, Co,loner Gela Ughtrelidze. . .  Difficult  to list all.. These were the army destroying steps  after which the whole system collapsed.  In my opinion, the worst thing is that, despite such steps, despite such sabotage approaches, I repeat that this was a deliberate policy, nobody was brought to responsibility. Could they punish themselves?!

– But today is  another  government. What are the barriers against  punishment of r the perpetrators?

– First,  the same old personnel is still remained  in the new government which in the past were actively participating in criminal operations; And the second,  the government has not a will to restore justice     This is why those  people are still unpunished, who had been  undermining   the armed forces for the years, otherwise, we should have now a normal leadership. A due analysis and assessments  could be done and the recommendations issued  for bringing to responsibility of all who committed crime  Believe me, if all necessary steps were taken in the right time,  many politicians today could be arrested instead of taking current positions.   Sadly, in the country, the feeling of justice has long been lost in the country and, nobody knows it better than those criminals.

Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania 



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