Way of life & Standard of Living
09 February, 2012
Way of life & Standard of Living

He said he did not possess any mechanism disallowing that. His dual attitude called for making money but also for doing the job that needed to be done. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.

GJ – The analysis that you are suggesting for consideration sounds very true and persuasive to me, but what was wrong with Eduard Shevardnadze? Didn’t he know as a person in charge what was happening in his own country? Any citizen of Georgia was aware of the

situation, at least to a certain extent. For example, everybody knew well enough what was going on in the Pankisi Gorge in east Georgia.  
S.M. – The Pankisi Gorge was a real drug factory and a haven for drug traffickers. The Narco-products were coming in via the Tskhinvali region (the so called South Ossetia) to be further moved to the Pankisi Gorge, where they were graded, sorted and packed accordingly and sent out in different directions to the existing markets around. Frankly, you can call the Georgia of that time anything but a regular state.
GJ – That’s the question that I have just asked – what was doing the leader of the country meanwhile?
S.M. – Towards the end of the Shevardnadze rule, those pernicious tendencies had reduced. He was doing his possible best to be in the way of criminals, roaming the country.
GJ – Why, was he not in a position to be stronger and to do more than that?
S.M. – I cannot say that because I don’t know for sure. He could possibly have done better. Actually, one of the weakest points of his rule was that he used to be kind of loyal towards the so called ‘legalized thieves’ (a typical soviet term, invented in the Stalinist era to describe the criminals who ruled the roost in prisons and also cooperated with law enforcement). There was another weak point characterizing the Shevardnadze regime – he would wink at the corrupt ways of his ruling party and the entire system in general.
GJ – Why, why was he allowing this to happen?
S.M. – He said he did not possess any mechanism disallowing that. His dual attitude called for making money but also for doing the job that needed to be done. Georgia was a receptacle of huge amount of smuggled goods from Apkhazeti and Tskhinvali, which undoubtedly hampered the process of the country’s normal development.  On the other hand, just all of them were involved in the smuggling business – Georgians, Russians, Apkhazians and Ossetians. It sounds weird, but the existing conflicts were mitigated to a certain extent by the mutual contraband efforts and interests. Although the money was made on a corrupt background, it still meant a lot – cash circulated amply among the population and the social plight was somewhat alleviated. Meanwhile, the total corruption was unbinding the dirty hands of so called ‘legalized thieves’ and criminal bosses. Big segment of the country’s economy was engaged in illegal business activity and relationships. There were made no bank transactions at that time in Georgia. Business operations like purchases, investments, import of products and payments on delivery were executed with cash. And deals like this badly undermined the banking sector of the country, negatively affecting the overall development of the nation. The state budget used to suffer permanently occurring deficits which made impossible to timely pay salaries and pensions, or other type of financial aid to people.

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