Allegations that the authorities are setting up paramilitary groups are “stupid delirium”, Bacho Akhalaia, the Georgian Defense Minister, told journalists on March 20.
Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, part of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition, named Akhalaia among those official, who, he claimed, had been instructed directly by President Saakashvili to set up paramilitary groups with “the sole purpose to persecute and intimidate” opposition.
“Firstly I want to express my desire about these people to simply stop this delirium,” Defense Minister Akhalaia told journalists in Parliament.
He then started talking about “voluntary reserve system”, which he said the Defense Ministry had been building for “several months” already. The Ministry of Defense announced about voluntary reserve troops in late October, 2011 designed for those who were willing to be enlisted in the reserve forces, but were not eligible for compulsory reserve service.
“We are building voluntary reserve system… that is for those, who express their desire to serve in reserve forces voluntarily based on their patriotic spirit. This system does not envisage paying salaries or other material benefits; this is fully based on voluntary and free will,” Akhalaia said.
He said that currently there were about 40,000 people enlisted in the system and the plan was to have total of 100,000 reservists “trained in basic military skills.”
“If someone wants to see some stupidity in this, I cannot ban anyone from stupid delirium,” Akhalaia said.
Alasania said on March 20, that “armed militias” established by the authorities had nothing to do with the reserve troops. He said those illegal paramilitary groups were under the subordination of several individuals affiliated with the law enforcement agencies and members of such groups were paid in cash.
Alasania said that he possessed evidence to support his claim. He refused to make details of evidence public, citing sensitivity of the matter from security point of view, but said he would submit the evidence involving “full information about places of location of the paramilitary groups, about their members, about armament and finances” to the Georgian National Security Council.
Echoing President Saakashvili’s remarks on the allegations, lawmakers from the ruling party also said on March 20, that Alasania’s claims were “immoral lies.” “It is shame to use such methods and allegations,” MP Giorgi Gabashvili said.
Another ruling party MP Nugzar Tsiklauri said it was “very provocative allegation and if someone has evidence they should make it public, otherwise Alasania’s this allegation sounds very much like those voiced by the Russian authorities who want to portray Georgia as a country where militia groups fight with each other.”