Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, part of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition, said on March 20, he was possessing evidence supporting his allegations that President Saakashvili was setting up paramilitary groups and would submit those evidence to the National Security Council (NSC) of Georgia.
Alasania convened a news conference to elaborate on his allegation first voiced on March 15 while meeting with foreign diplomats. He said during that meeting that the authorities were setting up “paramilitary groups” and accused President Saakashvili of “preparing for the civil war and confrontation”. President Saakashvili responded that talk of civil war and allegations about paramilitary groups were “immoral” and “idiocy”.
Speaking at a news conference on March 20 Alasania was holding a large envelope, which he said contained documented evidence supporting his allegations. Alasania said he would not make details of evidence public, citing sensitivity of the matter from the security point of view. He said he would instead send it to NSC, whose secretary is Giga Bokeria.
“Because of the fact that Georgia is now actually in the condition of military confrontation with its neighboring country [referring to Russia] and because significant part of our territories are occupied, I have decided not to make this detailed information public. But I am sending this information today to the National Security Council for further evaluation and hopefully for an immediate reaction.”
He claimed that evidence involve “full information about places of location of the paramilitary groups, about their members, about armament and finances.”
Alasania said that he had been gathering and receiving information about paramilitary groups “for months” from, as he put it, “patriot citizens”, whom he did not specify.
Alasania claimed, that arms had already been handed out to up to 500 people, which, he said, were divided into smaller cells of about 50-75 armed men, involving “former combatants and persons with criminal record”.
He said that those groups were mainly formed in the western region of Samegrelo, adding that he had “well-founded reasons to suspect that similar group is also being set up in Tbilisi.”
Alasania accused personally President Saakashvili of being behind the process of setting up paramilitary groups. He claimed that the President “instructed”, what Alasania called, “Akhalaia’s clan” to establish such groups.
He was referring to Roland Akhalaia, chief prosecutor in Samegrelo region and his two sons – Bacho Akhalaia, the Minister of Defense, and Data Akhalaia, a former head of the Department of Constitutional Security at the Interior Ministry.
“It is not a secret that in my native region [referring to Samegrelo region] Akhalaia’s clan holds absolute power,” Alasania said. “The purpose of these groups is the persecution, intimidation and, if needed, harassment of politicians and their supporters who have dissenting point of view.”
Alasania also listed ten individuals by their names, who, he said, were employees of various law enforcement agencies and in charge of alleged paramilitary groups.
Alasania also said that members of the alleged paramilitary groups were paid in cash.
“I want to tell him [Saakashvili] to take into consideration information I am sending and to take drastic measures and to immediately disband these armed groups,” Alasania said, adding that the opposition coalition Georgia Dream would not “allow civil confrontation to happen” in Georgia.