Thursday, 14 August 2008

Georgia: first apparent signs of internal discontent

...and this will grow making Saakashvili's position as head of state unattainable. The sooner the better for Georgia and South Caucasus. reports:

A group of villagers from the areas in and around the South Ossetian conflict zone, who have fled the region, were gathered outside the Parliament on Wednesday evening.

A Georgian-language website posted a video showing several dozen of displaced persons on the Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare complaining angrily about, what they called, the Georgian authorities failure to protect them and expressing desperate disappointment with the west and in particular with the Unites States.

One woman in the footage shouts angrily: “We pinned our hopes on America; did not we? Our soldiers were in Iraq; where is America now, where is it?”

Another woman says: “They are holding concerts. Is it time for concerts now? People are dieing.”

She was making a reference to a mass gathering in Tbilisi on August 12, when tens of thousands of people were gathered outside the Parliament in, what President Saakashvili said, was show of unity amid Russia’s aggression. Senior governmental members were delivering patriotic speeches at the rally vowing not to surrender and fight to the end, while singers were performing patriotic songs.

The video also shows another man speaking with the patrol police officer complaining: “Why did they [the authorities] leave us alone? Why did the troops pulled out? Why did they leave the villages and people there unprotected?”

“They are strong,” a police officer replies, apparently referring to the Russian troops.

“Oh really?” the man continued, “then why starting all these things at all? Did it have any sense? Why so many people die for?”

Vice-Mayor of Tbilisi Mamuka Akhvlediani came at the scene later trying to calm angry displaced people by vowing to provide them with shelter. But people who surrounded him responded even more angrily telling him shelter was not as important for them as the need “to save those still remaining” in the villages now controlled by the Russian forces and the South Ossetian militias.

“Why did not you give us arms, we could have at least defended ourselves,” a woman was shouting at Akhvlediani. “We were left unprotected there.”

Akhvlediani then again tried to allay them by saying that he was only in charge of taking care of them and finding a shelter for them.

Officials say over 23,000 displaced persons have been registered as of August 13. Most of them found shelter in public schools and kindergartens and hundreds of tents are being installed by the authorities in the outskirt of Tbilisi.

Meanwhile, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia, Robert Watkins, said on August 14 that the UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations had no access to the conflict zones, particularly South Ossetia. He called on all sides to establish a humanitarian corridor, as agreed in the ceasefire plan.

*photo - via

1 comment:

artmika said...

Saakashvili to Face ‘Tough Questions’

Opposition parties, as well as former parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, said on August 18 Russian troops’ withdrawal was now a priority, but the government would definitely face “tough questions” afterwards about what led to the conflict and why it all happened.

“I'm afraid it will not be very easy for the government to answer all the questions,” Nino Burjanadze said in an interview with Reuters. “It was impossible to imagine that Russian tanks would be 20-25 minutes drive from Tbilisi, that we would have so many refugees and displaced persons and so many casualties among civilians.”

“I am more than sure that right now I have to play a very active political role in the country,” Burjanadze added in what appears to be her strongest indication of having plans to make the political comeback soon.

Meanwhile, leaders of two opposition parties – Republican and New Rights – Davit Usupashvili and Davit Gamkrelidze, respectively, said at a joint news conference on August 18, that they would continue, what they called, “a moratorium” on conformation with the authorities. But, they said, questions would be asked and analysis would be made of what had happened as soon as the crisis recedes.

Other opposition politicians are also cautious from making any harsh remarks for now, at least for the Georgian media. But on August 15, the Financial Times carried quotes of Levan Gachechiladze, co-leader of opposition coalition and Kakha Kukava, leader of the Conservative Party, warning the authorities about the anticipated protest rallies.

Gachechiladze was quoted by as saying that the opposition would campaign for elections to be held “at the earliest opportunity”, perhaps within two months. And Kukava was quoted as saying: “Saakashvili was personally responsible for the military operation, and for starting a war we could not win.” He also added the opposition would wait until the situation had cooled and then call for mass demonstrations aimed at removing the government.

As soon as the quotes were carried in the Russian news wires, both of the politicians prompted to announce that their remarks were put out of the context.

“Today, when Russian tanks are rolling on the Georgian territory, on the most part of its territory, we need unity, firmness and our enemies should never see political tensions in the country,” Levan Gachechiladze said on August 15.

“Our position is that Russian tanks should leave Georgia and afterwards discussions will start over who is responsible for what has happened,” Kukava told Civil.Ge. [...]