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Abkhaz War-Time Commander Joins Alasania Team
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 19 Feb.'09 / 18:11

Gia Karkarashvili, who was a commander of the Georgian armed forces during the Abkhaz war in early 90s, has joined a political group of Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s former UN envoy.

Karkarashvili said on February 19, that he “admired” Alasania for his ability to speak with Abkhazians despite his “personal tragedy” suffered in Abkhaz conflict of early 90s. Father of Irakli Alasania, Mamia Alasania, was executed, together with Zhiuli Shartava, head of the local government in Abkhazia, after Sokhumi was captured by separatist militias in September, 1993. In 2006, when Irakli Alasania briefly served as President Saakashvili’s envoy for conflicts, some Abkhaz officials hailed him as respected negotiator.

Karkarashvili, who graduated the Tbilisi School of Artillery and later studied at the Russian Military Academy, reemerged in the public attention after the August war, when he started to criticize the Georgian authorities for the way military operations were conducted. Recently he has produced a report in which he concludes that the military operations were mismanaged and poorly planned wherein political leaders had more say than military leadership.

The report, he said, was based on dozens of interviews with officers, as well as on analysis of government officials’ war-time statements and their testimonials before the parliamentary commission. He suggested that the Georgian authorities could have been misled by the Russian authorities that their military would not intervene in case of hostilities. Karkarashvili also claimed that the initial military plan, drafted by then commander of land forces, Mamuka Balakhadze, did not envisage attack and capturing of the breakaway South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali; but the plan was changed, he argues, after the involvement of the political leadership.

At the time of being appointed as commander of the Georgian forces during the conflict in Abkhazia in 1992, Karkarashvili was 27 years old. His televised remarks made after the appointment, in which he tells Abkhaz separatist forces “if 100,000 Georgians die, then all 97,000 [Abkhazians] on your side will be killed” was widely used by the Abkhaz side as an example of Georgia’s drive to clean the region from Abkhazians.

Asked about his remarks on February 18 at the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV, Karkarashvili responded that his televised address was edited in a way to portray as if he was threatening to destroy Abkhazians. “By the way Alexander Ankvab, who is now prime minister of Abkhazia, was present there when my address was being recorded and he can confirm my words,” said Karkarashvili, who explained that Ankvab happened to present there because at that time he was captured by the Georgian troops, but released later upon his personal instructions.

After the Abkhaz conflict he left for Moscow, where he survived an assassination attempt, which left him in wheelchair. In 1999 he was elected in the Georgian Parliament, but quit the legislative body in 2004.

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