In the Labyrinths of Selective TruthPosted: 2015/11/12
(Concise translation of last part of the post on Georgian).
There are not so many cases in modern history when the highest-ranking official, after losing elections, decides to adopt citizenship of a foreign country and then tries to conquer Olympia in other state’s politics. Georgians had somewhat similar experience with Shevardnadze (returning back to Tbilisi from Moscow), though it was rather a special historical context with empire dissolving, new independent state emerging, etc…
But to my knowledge, it is with Mikheil Saakashvili that we are witnessing an unprecedentedly unique experiment in the world politics – a person, who is under 4 different investigations in his homeland has relocated to another country (a strategic ally of Georgia!), adopted this country’s citizenship (automatically refusing his Georgian one), claims to be #1 reformer in the new land and doesn’t make secret of his intentions to target its highest political positions!
At the same time, it is obvious (and many of his admirers both at home and abroad admit to this fact readily) that with the denial of Georgian citizenship, Mikheil Saakashvili has not at all seized an opportunity for a triumphal return to Georgian politics. Nevertheless, many have assessed his departure to Ukraine – along with several dozen faithful and skilled team members – as an attempt to set up a “platzdarm”, a springboard that would toss him back to Georgia. This very scenario – willingness to run political processes in both countries simultaneously – makes Misha’s case a truly unique adventure.
Brief excerpt from one of my first blogs called – “Journalists and Urnalists” https://solomonternaleli.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/154/
The very sharp and interesting documentary by Nino Zuriashvili (Studia Monitori) depicts dramatic fate of Georgian televisions. http://www.ijp.ge/video_blank.php?vid=38
In 2004, when UNM came to power, there were 12 independent TV companies in Georgia, 4 of which had nation-wide coverage and at least 6 were independent from government control. In just 4 years since the Rose Revolution, 11 out of 12 (all but “Caucasia TV”) have changed their ownership or lost the broadcasting license! The studies funded by European Union and Transparency International-Georgia have shown that TV ownership is directly correlated with the degree of state control of those television companies, and eventually, public trust is affected by the identity of TV company owners.
In 2009, despite legal constraints, owners of 45 TV channels (Misha has replaced the quality by quantity to cover up the decline in media-freedom indecies), have been either acting (or former) members of government or their close relatives; in Akhmeta district – the owner was the local municipality itself! It was later revealed that persons close to the government, (or their relatives/neighbors) would suddenly and unexpectedly become owners of large packages of television companies’ shares, sometimes in several companies at the same time. In this spirit, dubious off-shore company called Degson Limited Holding, owned two reputable tv companies, “Rustavi 2” and “Mze”. Another mystical organization – Denial Union – owned 100% of “Sakartvelo” (a tv company associated with the Ministry of Defense) and 51% in “Evrika”.
The legal structure/status of an Arab investment company called “Rakeen”, along with its supposed subsidiary “Rakeen Georgia Holding” (which owned 90% in “Imedi”, another major tv company) was also quite uncertain. In 2010, the management of Rakeen denied any connection with “Rakeen Georgia Holding”, which further strengthened the suspicion that the real owners of this company were Georgians, and most probably, closely affiliated with the United National Movement. http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=21950
The primary shareholders (by year 2007) were Kibar Khalvashi, Davit Bezhuashvii, an off-shore “Geomedia Group” and a company called “Magi Stili”, founders of which were Gogi Gegeshidze and Irakli Chikovani. Kibar Khalvashi was deleted from this list the same day when his friend and government’s primary fulcrum Irakli Okruashvili resigned, while the owners of 6 different tv companies (“Rustavi 2”, “Mze”, “Imedi”, “Obiektivi”, “Evropa”, “Sakartvelos Khma”) have been seeking to restore their violated rights with the help of judicial organs since 2008…
to Western Diplomats
The positive side of Mikheil Saakashvili was that he knew the fundamentals of democracy and could talk in the western way.
The flaw of Mikheil Saakashvili was that he mainly needed the knowledge of fundamentals of democracy and western conversation manners for one thing – to cover up his own oriental, autocratic aspirations. I’m not sure if he managed to learn anything from his fiasco in Georgia. I’m afraid he only learned that he ought to hide his intentions better; though his leaked telephone conversations wouldn’t necessarily allow us to conclude that either.
It is clear why you liked Mikheil Saakashvili – he was talking your way and was quite effective in it. It is evident why you would want to use his energy, charisma and talent in Ukraine…. May God help you with that! And I was sincere recently when I wished some young people from Ukraine to use the knowledge that Saakashvili and his Guard possess in the field of corruption, but to scrutinize with attention that the tools elaborated against corruption, do not simultaneously construct a machine for “milking” the local businessmen – including honest ones. One can create such a machine very easily, and the team of Mikheil Saakashvili is fairly (and admittedly) skilled in doing this. By the way, tens of thousands of appeals have been made against the former government officials by ordinary Georgians on cases of criminal misappropriation of property.
But can’t you see that this person is also the source of your problems?
Can’t you see that he is rather unwilling to follow your instructions and can change your assignments for his own benefit?
Don’t you see that he, working as the Governor of Odessa, would not give up his dreams of creating chaos in Georgia, and in fact, is already working on a bloodshed scenario?
Mikheil Saakashvili has several times stated openly and clearly that he and his party will come back to Georgia and that it will happen this year – in the autumn of 2015, as a matter of fact!
I have two questions in this regard:
- How can the comeback take place in 2015, if the next parliamentary elections are due only in October of 2016?
- 2Can you also reflect more deeply on why Mikheil Saakashvili wants it to happen specifically this year?
My logical answers are very simple:
1.Mikheil Saakashvili knows very well that he and his party cannot come to power by means of elections! Even according to the IRI and NDI data, if the rating of the Georgian Dream has decreased by almost 2 or 3 times (I am not going to discuss the plausibility of this issue now), the rating of the Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) has not increased at all! What does this mean? It’s easy – people may be disappointed with the Georgian Dream, but the same people are not going to allow that the party – which by means of fraud, media subordination, unjust courts and persecution of political opponents ruled the country for 9 years – is brought back to power. This was a government, which made itself “memorable” by using police and “zonders” to intimidate opposition and public, to extort money from private companies, a government which overcrowded jails and whose trademark skill was to inflict cruel and degrading punishment on inmates.
The thing that you so liked in the Government of Mikheil Saakashvili was a charming, visible upper chunk of the iceberg of systemic intimidation and harassment. What we knew and what you get to discover in 2012 (and afterwards), is the disgusting, latent part of this iceberg. Since the leader of the United National Movement has not been held responsible for this and has not asked to be pardoned, since the party still has not distanced itself from its criminal leaders, it is illusory, on the part of UNM, to even think about returning to power.
2. And why now – in autumn of 2015? Does anything happen after autumn (namely, December), which makes always active Mikheil Saakashvili even more heedless and impulsive?
The answer is evident: in December, Georgia will be finalizing the implementation of the third recommendation package within the framework of EU-Georgia Association Agreement. On the basis of the above-mentioned, the decision on visa liberalization must be made.
For Mikheil Saakashvili and his team, which bases its entire propaganda machine on the supposed pro-Russian character of the “Georgian Dream”, it was a catastrophe to see Georgia signing the EU Association Agreement last year. And today, due to a strange reality, maybe even more than Vladimir Putin, it is Mikheil Saakashvili who does everything in his powers to block the Georgian authorities from attaining the visa liberalization agreement with European Union, as this will finally ruin his plans for “a revolutionary return”.
The proof of this attempt can be found in last week’s bold efforts of some UNM MPs, who were trying hopelessly to include in the draft resolution of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee provisions that would in fact suspend the association process all together. The Members of the European Parliament could not hide their astonishment when the MPs of the allegedly pro-European parliamentary minority intentionally tried to stop Georgia’s advancement to Europe. Fortunately, the Chairman of the meeting and Georgia’s European partners, who expressed disapproval of UNM’s overall disposition at the meeting and its constant attempts to violate the procedural rules, prevented this provocative plan from succeeding. Isn’t it obvious, though, that the political emigrant in Odessa, who does not seem to ever agree to reconsider his triumphant return plans, is the one causing this mayhem?
And the plan is the following: if Georgia is refused the visa-free regime with EU, UNM will begin organizing nationwide protest rallies under the pretense of halting the pivot of Georgia towards Russia. At the same time, they will try to provoke clashes with the supporters of pro-Russian parties, creating a “revolutionary situation”. Finally, UNM will use its well-amassed barricades and ammunition to bring forth their armed supporters (remember Misha’s advise to his team members to collect Boeviks at Rustavi2 TV) and further destabilize the situation. Hopefully, the evidence for these plans will not be limited to doubtful – and yet quite authentic-sounding – sources, and the investigation on the conspiracy for toppling a state government will not be endless.
And while Mikheil Saakashvili, with his desire to stage a second revolution in Georgia, is not refraining to use Rustavi 2 for his political goals, can your justified appeal to protect media independence and pluralism in Georgia be wrongly perceived by the great majority of Georgian population as not necessarily a defense of Rustavi2, but an attempt to enable the adventurous plans of Mikheil Saakashvili and his violent marginal supporters? Can it be perceived as an indirect contribution to the efforts of destabilization in the most democratic country of the region? Don’t you think that being associated with an adventurous hothead such as Mikheil Saakashvili, throws a shadow on your reputation – at least in Georgia? Don’t you understand that in a situation like this, you have to at least stand aside from such efforts and maybe even advise Mr. Saakashvili to sit only in one (Ukrainian) chair and not worry about “taking care” of two countries at the same time? Unfortunately, I heard such a statement – expressed diplomatically, but quite clearly – only from Her Excellency, the Ambassador of Great Britain. In my humble opinion, during the last 50 years, no one caused more damage to the image of the USA, the West and the western values in this country than Mikheil Saakashvili. And he keeps on doing that…. It is very bad, if I see this and you can’t. If you wish him to continue like this, well, so be it…
What have the Georgian authorities done that you do not wish to dissociate yourselves from Misha’s comparisons of the Georgian government to Yanukovich’s dishonorable administration and the current reality of Georgia to Kiev’s Maidan? Don’t you have, in the US Congress or some European Parliaments, a few people that approve of Stalin or Putin’s personalities? Haven’t the members of your governments been put in jail for corruption and the abuse of power? Will not it be strange if we, because of the mentioned reasons, speak about political persecution of your ex-powermen and put the decisions of your courts under suspicion?!
Certainly, the judiciary of Georgia cannot boast of the same reputation as European or US courts, and that is exactly why the incumbent authorities of Georgia have asked you to actively participate in the court proceedings against the former government officials or send your representatives to attend them. You have refused it. And now, after several verdicts on some high-level former officials have been known, we hear your criticism on political retribution that you keep on repeating with the same regularity and intensity as diplomats usually do against the authorities of much less democratic countries!
The things have gotten to a point when the Member of the European Parliament, who kept suspiciously silent when visiting one other country of the region, after arriving in Georgia, vented excessively regarding the supposed political persecutions.
Can’t you see that the writ issued by a judge at 17:00 was delivered to the editorial staff of Rustavi 2 by its lawyers only at 23:30? Can’t you see how poor and artificial the performance of “decisions, made at night” looks – staged, paradoxically, by the same force, which was registering thousands of properties just after midnight and even had its own so-called “night notaries”?!
Our last 25 years are the years of new tests, new hopes and new disappointments. The fact that almost third of Georgian population has emigrated from the country (something we only learned recently, for the former authorities were not at all interested in delving in such issues!) is an evidence that the destiny of the citizens of independent Georgia has not been full of joy and delight. The proof of this is also the occupation and annexation of more than 20% of the Georgian territory. During this period, the population of Georgia, with patience, weary of heavy thoughts, tries to keep optimism that our long-standing hopes of European integration will be finally coming true…
Time passes, authorities change, more and more Georgians go (or are born) abroad… and the door, open to us, is still partially open…The recent elections in Sagarejo district showed that forces that believe that people like me – who look to Europe with 25 years of patience – are mistaken, are gathering rather strong support. Not to see this is a mistake, blaming it on the “Georgian Dream” coalition is foolish! It will be much more appropriate, if you put responsibility on Mikheil Saakashvili and his loyal United National Movement, for they were given so much and still managed to fail. They have exchanged true democratic values for barrels of videotapes and compromising materials… it will be much more accurate to blame the strange process of co-habitation, rather than “restoration of justice”, for what has happened – As a matter of fact, the low ratings of the Georgian Dream today, can be well explained by the delay in restoring justice.
Restoration of justice was not going to happen under old prosecutors and judges or Kublashvili’s Supreme Court. The fact that the process was called co-habitation makes many citizens think that the delay was the result of the request by the West and not due to objective reasons… By the way – “delayed justice” is often stated as the main argument why the “Patriotic Alliance” and other (loyal-to-Russia) opposition forces are gaining weight. To strengthen their stance, they will most likely use your criticism of the current government to their advantage, while at the same time dwelling on the grievances of a considerable part of the Georgian population, who view the western supporters of Saakashvili in disdain.
You might not agree with me, but Saakashvili and Bokeria know perfectly well that they do not stand any chance, not only to come back to power, but even to remain as the main political opposition for the upcoming elections. The relatively “cleaner” part of the UNM wasted its chance to distance itself from its criminal leadership, and become a much smaller party, or set up a different kind of a coalition – let us see what will become of “Girchi” (new political force of four ex-UNM members).
As to the formation of new political center around the President, I’d be pleased to see the creation of a new, serious democratic entity, but very little time is left until the 2016 elections. Despite of certain empathy, I think that Free Democrats do not possess sufficient organizational resources, taking into account that their regional organizations are losing structure. As for the individual experts and human rights defenders – them gathering together around Margvelashvili does not automatically imply a new party; their unity will have to be thoroughly tested by contest of interests and ambitions… At the same time, such democratic newborn force might certainly have better chance for political maturity in 2020, than UNM – with its hardly realistic political survival.
If you wish the processes to go on, as they were until now, then change nothing… Continue “politically correct” and beautiful conversations, but don’t be surprised of some regrettable outcomes in the end. The result is always what we deserve – due to our incorrect calculations, due to being caught in other’s trap, due to our tendency to believe what we want to believe…