25 April, 2013
Hidden opposition of former Defense and Interior Ministers

Vano Merabishvili headed the Ministry of Interior Affairs from the end of 2004 till summer of 2012. It was something really unprecedented in Saakashvili’s administration – we remember quite well the staff ‘merry-go-round’ of those times.
Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was considered to be the most influential functionary in Saakashvili’s team but from the summer of 2009, after Saakashvili assigned Bacho Akhalaia the Minister of Defense – his spheres of influence began
to weaken.
When he was heading the Department of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Akhalia held unanimous power but this couldn’t be compared with the levers of Defense Minister and what’s more, actually, Bacho Akhalaia established full control over Joint Command and entire armed forces.
It was exactly from this period that latent confrontation between Akhalaia’s and Merabishvili’s teams started that might not be visible for people at large but it was felt well by those high-rank officials of Interior and Defense Ministries who had business or personal contact with this or that Minister.
As we wrote earlier, relations between the top brass became tenser on Akhalaia’s order; resumably, representatives of Military Police and Intelligence started collection of information on Interior Minister and his closest milieu, using modern radio-electronic devices for gaining on-line data and eavesdropping.
It’s an irrefutable fact that before that Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was digging some dirt up on Ministers of Defense. He had the ground to be worried as the team of Akhalaias was very quickly strengthening their positions in the authorities and soon would outstrip Merabishvili’s team.
Bacho Akhalaia’s assignment on the post of Minister of Interior Affairs can serve as a proof and this might not be very happy news for Merabishvili who became Prime Minister but actually lost his powers; despite this he didn’t display discouragement and kept declaring that it was he who offered Akhalaia to Saakashvili on the post Interior Minister.
It’s hard to say whether the ‘Nationals’ leadership analyzed the reasons of defeat at October Parliamentary elections but there is no doubt that it was conditioned by Merabishvili’s leaving the Interior Ministry and Akhalaia’s assignment in his stead; the new Minister never enjoyed much sympathy at the Interior Ministry.
Some kind of result of hidden discord between Merabishvili and Akhalaia could be the bloody Lapankuri operation during which the signs of intra- and interdepartmental confrontation were clearly seen.
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