‘Political processes are sliding into crisis’
14 October, 2010
‘Political processes are sliding into crisis’

How Georgian Government uses White House statements


Russia gets closer to China; Strasburg Court issues an official decree on inhuman treatment of Chechens by Russian militaries. And what is going on in Georgia?

Nothing new: just those regular mass and TV arrests, as well as internal strife and mutual accusations on the part of the opposition parties - who is whose agent and who is doing whose job. Meanwhile, Abkhazians and Ossetians started demarcation of borders in tandem with their “senior

Russians brothers”. On the plus side, Americans offered another casual recognition of our territorial integrity. At the same time, with the nearing Presidential elections in Russia, the Northern loop over the Georgian throat tightens. This is the list of issues we discussed with political expert Gia  Khukhashvili:

Q: The Authorities termed the recent arrests of individual entrepreneurs by the investigation unit of Ministry of Finances as the next step towards legalization of businesses, whereas the opposition sees it as a continuation of repressions. What is really happening, in your opinion?
A: Although the Authorities branded the arrests as “business whitening”, I stand to doubt legitimacy of their assertion. In general, it’s a simple technique – first hitching people to commit crimes and then penalizing them for these crimes. With apparently trifle transgressions, this massive public televised arrests and repressions cannot be seen as healthy by any rate.

Q: In previous years, governmental and presidential reserve funds used to receive incessant harsh criticism. According to a number of investigations conducted by NGOs, use of money from the funds was far from being transparent. At the start of the year, both funds accounted for GEL 25 million each. At the end of the year, the figures jumped to GEL 55 million each.
A: The principle of today’s system can be described in the following way: in the past we lived in the corrupted state – every level was ridden with corruption on both income and spending sides. In the post-revolution period, corruption was monopolized. The Authorities created quite an interesting system. They get the income side of the vertical free from any sign of corruption. They reasoned that they could simply do things by lodging all the money in the budget and spending it through the budget whenever they would like to. Moreover, it does not matter whether the presidential fund is 50 million or 100 million because the Authorities have all the instruments to use the budget for anything they deem it necessary.
Hence, the State budget was dubbed “the purse of the Authorities” for its servicing of political and private interests of the rulers. The Authorities shun calling it corruption. Instead, they do everything to make the public believe that corruption is a lump of money accepted as a bribe by an individual governmental officer. However, in my view, redistribution of stakes in businesses to the benefit of oligarch groups is also called corruption. The same goes for the misuse of budget resources. It is so naive to imagine corruption only as a bribing factory of cash-bursting suitcases. We are well aware that the State money is spent on political purposes as well. We do remember that in the middle of polemics about sensibility to hold another extraordinary election, the Authorities blurted out that the elections cost a billion, a long way off their official figures of “minuscule” 20-25 million.
Certainly it is corruption when the budget money is funneled to causes of electoral significance. Likewise, do not be surprised if I tell you that refurbishing houses or streets on the eve of elections is just another example of corruption. Well, at a first glance, it is a good thing to refurbish residential infrastructure. It improves living conditions of common people. However, these things need to be done daily, beyond the electoral periods, not for the sole purpose of defeating the opposing political forces – which by the way involves buying people and taking ownership of their soles.

Q: According to Hillary Clinton, the US State Secretary, the ongoing constitutional changes are the most prominent and significant challenge Georgia is facing. What do you think is the official attitude of Washington to the Georgian Authorities?
A: Clinton’s speech was a review of whatever the United States has done or is doing in Georgia for yeas. There is nothing new in the fact that NATO doors are open for Georgia, or that we are in the regime of being recognized within our integral borders and alike. The Authorities try to utilize the US State Secretary’s statements for their own PR, crafting a mockery of Clinton’s all-out support for them. On the other end, the opposition interprets all the statements plainly from a skeptical point of view. In reality, no side has enough grounds for either skepticism or optimism.
Regarding the general position of the United States on Georgia, I believe it has changed radically. As a global player, the United States presumes that it has a certain asset in the case of Georgia.

Q: Confrontations continue to abound in the political life of Georgia. In the opposition everyone blames everyone else for everything so that it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who is with whom.
A: I cannot tell you who is with whom in the opposition; who feels dumped or treads multiple paths of intellectual imbroglio. The only fact I can see is that the Authorities have no political problem inside the country to worry about whatsoever. Political processes are dead. The Authorities are easily handling the situation in whatever way. I am afraid political processes are sliding into the crisis.

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