White or Black Market?
06 December, 2012
White or Black Market?
PM accuses the previous Government of buying mediocre Kalashnikov rifles expensively

PM Bidzina Ivanishvili stated at the Governmental session that the previous Government purchased a great number of old-type Kalashnikov rifles for ten times their normal prices, squandering a total of GEL 42 million. Another 3 million was transferred to purchase a tank. “Next time we will not transfer money for a tank. Wanton expenses that were not covered by the state budget forced us to allocate 52 million to
Defense Ministry anew,” – he noted.
The Prime Minister did not specify the number, type and unit prices of purchased Kalashnikov rifles. However, we found out that each rifle cost about 500 US Dollars. There is no information available about the rifle type. In any case, USD 500 per rifle is too much, especially with GEL 42 million of total budget, as large deals normally involve discounts. Namely, in such cases international market price hardly exceeds USD 150-200 and can be even lower (when buying used weapons). Thus, Georgia paid 2-3 times the real price per rifle.
Another question is a rifle category. Kalashnikov rifles fresh off the factory belong to the first category. Once they reach a military unit of destination, they become the second category. Following their use in trainings, they move into the third category. Finally, after the rifles use ten thousand bullets, they are downgraded to the last, fourth category before their write-off. It is hard to say what PM meant by “old-type” but most probably he stressed the fact that those were the used rifles.
The PM statement spurred a feedback from former Defense Minister Shashkin. Shashkin asserted that the Kalashnikov deal belonged to his predecessor – Bacho Akhalaia. As for himself, his several-month-long ministerial office, he managed to buy only American automatic carbine M4 guns for Georgian servicemen serving in Afghanistan under ISAF. Shashkin remarked that those used Kalashnikov rifles were bought for the reserve forces because, as American experts supposed, they were unlikely to master American M4s as smoothly as Kalashnikovs. In addition, in case of guerilla warfare, fighting reserve forces equipped with Kalashnikovs would be able to refill ammunition stocks, given that Russian army is using same Kalashnikovs. Ironically, most of those thousands of Bushmaster M4 assault rifles bought by Georgia in the eve of August 2008 were grabbed by Russian forces during the war.
According to a special UN register that estimates conventional arms export and import, in 2005-2010 Georgia was the top buyer of firearms in the South Caucasus. In those five years, official Tbilisi obtained various types of 76 377 firearms from seven countries, mostly Ukraine and Bulgaria. Over half of it was Kalashnikovs.
Former Defense Minister Dimitri Shashkin claims that the Kalashnikov deal was official and absolutely legal. Yet, our attempts to find the data on the deal in the UN register proved futile. Georgia is not there as Kalashnikov bulk importer - neither in 2011, or in 2012.
According to the latest data submitted by Georgia to the register, the last of such deals dates back to 2007 (date of information submission is 7 July, 2008). Annual submission of data to the UN register conventional arms is voluntary. Apparently, the purchase of 23 thousand Kalashnikovs from Ukraine and Bulgaria cannot be the deal that enraged PM because he specified the year of 2012 defense budget as the one affected by the Kalashnikov deal.
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