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Merabishvili: 'I'm not Dreaming of Any Post'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 Nov.'10 / 03:54

  • 'War can't be lost against corrupt country';
  • 'Doors open for North Caucasian friends';
  • 'No Intention to Irritate Russia';
  • Computer game 'Police'

Georgian Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, said he was not yet thinking about what his political career might be under the new constitutional system, when PM becomes key figure in the country.

In an interview with the Georgian television station, Imedi, Merabishvili said: "Nothing is ruled out, but I am not dreaming about taking any post."

"I am not thinking about which ministry or direction might be interesting for me; my everyday work does not leave me enough time to think about it... I do not deem it appropriate to think about it now; two years in Georgia is a long period... Things change so fast, developments are so dynamic... and it is impossible to make predictions for two years ahead", he said.

Then the interviewer narrowed down the question - although not further enough to directly ask if he was eying prime ministerial post - and asked if he was "thinking about elections" in 2012.

"No, I do not think about the elections," Merabishvili responded.

Georgia will have new constitutional system starting from late 2013, wherein most of the presidential powers will be transfered to Prime Minister; at the time Prime Minister will be elected by the Parliament, elected in the 2012 elections. Although there are widespread speculation in Georgia that President Saakashvili, whose second and final term in office will expire in late 2013, himself is eying for the prime ministerial post, some have also suggested that Vano Merabishvili might be aiming at the post.

The interview with Imedi TV, which was recorded few days ago and aired on November 13, was the rare one given to the Georgian media by the Interior Minister, regarded to be the most influential figure in President Saakashvili's administration. Opponents say Merabishvili's influence goes far beyond his professional duties as head of the ministry, which in itself is a powerful agency also incorporating security services.

In the interview Merabishvili, on the one hand, tried to downplay widespread notion that he exerts powers on decisions beyond his official competences, but on the other hand, he also said: "Decisions, which may not involve the Interior Ministry, are rare."

Imedi TV's 85-minute long program about Merabishvili incorporated a recorded sit-down interview with him, preceded by journalist's conversation with him in the minister's office and at various locations, including a construction site of one of the police stations in Tbilisi, which like other newly built police stations and like the Interior Ministry's headquarters itself is a glass building demonstrating, as Merabishvili says, transparency of the Georgian police. 

'War Can't Be Lost Against Corrupt Country'

One of the locations where the journalist accompanied Merabishvili was at the breakaway South Ossetia's administrative border, close to Akhalgori from where Russian military barracks are seen on the other side of the dividing line.

"That's the base where subversive actions, political and economic destabilization and banditry is being planned against Georgia," Merabishvili said looking in direction of the Russian troops' barracks. "Of course efficiency of thier [efforts] is not very high, because of active work of our police and counter-intelligence - thier major problem, however, is corruption and lack of interest of thier [Russia's] officers to defend Russia's interests; but we still need to work hard to foil plans of, although ineffective but numerous, aggressors and our adversaries."

"It is impossible for the country, where there is freedom and where the police is loved by the people, to lose the war against the force, where there is corruption, no human rights, no free economy... and from where soldiers are fleeing to sought asylum on our side," the Interior Minister said.

'Opened Door for North Caucasian Friends'

Georgia's decision to impose 90-day visa-free travel rules for Russian citizens residing in the North Caucasus has not created any threat to Georgia, Merabishvili said.

"This is a door, opened to Georgia's friends. We have enough resources to foil any attempt of aggression against Georgia. Moreover, this gate [referring to possibility to cross Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point without visa] allows us to gather more information and to carry out more surveillance on our adversary; hence, allowing us to prevent thier subversive or other acts [against Georgia]," he said.

'No Intention to Irritate Russia' 

Asked whether the Interior Ministry's decision to withhold till November 5 release of first official information about the capture of alleged Russian spies was related to the fact that the Russian military intelligence marks its professional day on that date, Merabishvili responded, that it was also a factor, but not the main reason.

He said it took some time before preparing all the materials in order to provide "good" media coverage of the case. Rustavi 2 television station aired a documentary about the case late on November 5.

Merabishvili said, that major reason behind providing high publicity to the exposure of the spy network was to warn and discourage those Georgian citizens, who still keep links with the Russian intelligence.

"Our goal was not to irritate Russia; vector [of this move] was not at all directed towards Russia," he said.

Computer Game 'Police' 

Merabishvili also said that a team of software engineers and programmers, contracted by the Interior Ministry, was developing the first ever Georgian computer game, "Police", in which players will take part in virtual hunt down of criminals and Russian spies. The game will also be available in English for worldwide audience, the Interior Minister said.

He also said that although himself a computer savvy, he did not have a Facebook account and several accounts existing under his name on the social networking site did not belonged to him.

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