SOCIETY
Georgian Minister, who could have started a Nuclear War
12 April, 2019
An involuntary soviet officer, who could have plunged Turkey into the “nuclear winter”, later became a person entrusted with a mission to settle conflicts in independent Georgia, set prisoners of war free, repatriate the bodies of the deceased to their homeland and into a person in whom the relatives of missing ones put their hope.

The beginning of 2019 will be recorded in history as the period of emerging perilous symptoms of a new “cold war” in the whole world and
especially in Europe - first the USA decided to withdraw from 30-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, followed by the decision made by Russia to withdraw from the Treaty on the Elimination of The Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles.

It might not be considered as important by the new generation but the older generation might remember well enough being a target of the US nuclear missiles for almost half a century, just like the Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in the territory of Georgia targeted Turkey - a NATO member state - and the Middle East.

Our readers might have heard of 12 Launchers of TEMP-S-type, designed by a Georgian inventor Aleksander Nadiradze, which were part of the inventory of the Missile Brigade stationed in Gombori, Sagarejo (the maximum range of this nuclear warhead missile reached almost 900 km); but not many of them might have heard of another nuclear facility stationed in Shaumiani (former Shulaveri) – a settlement in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia.
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This was the 90th Missile Brigade of the Transcaucasian Military District, equipped with eighteen self-propelled missiles “ELBRUS”, also known as “SCUD" in the West. Although "ELBRUS-SCUD" tactic-technical capacities were three times less than that of the "TEMP" designed by Alexander Nadiradze, and its maximum range was only 300 km, but it could carry nuclear warheads equivalent of 500 kilotons of TNT (Trinitrotoluene), 25 times more powerful than the first American atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima.

But there was something even more interesting than the information about once a secret missile brigade stationed in Shaumiani; in particular, it became clear that the Soviet officer in charge of targeting Turkey and capable of launching the “SCUD" nuclear warheads towards Turkey later became a minister of the government of Georgia.

The name of Paata Zakareishvili is well-known to Georgian society as he was the State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality from 2012 to 2016. He directly participated in the mission which started in 1992 and which helped 3 thousand civilians to leave the conflict zones; helped to repatriate the bodies of up to 300 soldiers, who were killed during those conflicts to their homeland; and to exchange up to 200 prisoners of war (after losing Gagra, in Spring, 1992, the author of the article visited Gudauta twice, accompanying Paata Zakareishvili and Gia Baramidze, to free Georgian prisoners of war). It appears that the Georgian political expert, famous for his contribution in peacekeeping missions, was once ready to implement a missile strike against NATO and for starting the third world war – a nuclear war.

When we asked him how he had got involved in the plans involving nuclear missiles, Paata Zakareishvili put it in a nutshell: “I couldn’t afford to pay money to the military commissariat and avoid serving in the military.

Paata Zakareishvili graduated from Kazan University in 1984, and when he returned to Tbilisi, he got married and started his family; but after two years, he received a summons to serve in the army from Mtatsminda commissariat, where he was told that as he had gained a unique specialty of a person responsible for managing missile strikes while studying at Kazan University, he had to serve as an officer in the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Soviet Union for two years. The fact that his wife was pregnant expecting their second child did not help, neither did the fact that he admitted that he had basically slept during the lectures at Kazan University and consequently, he had not even seen a missile. It was hinted ambiguously, that if he wanted to avoid serving there, he had to pay. Mr. Paata Zakareishvili didn’t like the idea of being deprived of the possibility to sustain his family. He preferred to serve as a Soviet officer for two years and to be in charge of aiming “SKUD” type nuclear warheads at Karsi and Sarikamishi from Shaumiani military base.
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An intern Soviet officer was soon taught how to manage missile attacks at Shaumiani military base, he was even taken to Kapustin-Yar - a well-known ordnance yard in Kazakhstan, and was allowed to launch a “SKUD” type missile.

Shaumiani rocket brigade had to leave the place of their deployment right away following the announcement of an alarm, as part of their training, at night near Marneuli, some models of nuclear weapons were brought for them from Vaziani military base, and they had to install these models in the heads of missiles, after which the missiles were ready to be launched.

In 1988, Paata Zakareishvili said farewell to the shoulder-straps of a Soviet officer and was enrolled in the Theological Seminary; after which once a potential wager of nuclear war became one of the prominent preachers of reconciliation and equality.

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