(UPDATE: adds third paragraph about Tbilisi City Hall amending statute of its security service)
Tbilisi Mayor’s Office plans to establish city security service to providing security of the capital city municipality’s facilities, administrative buildings, parks and public gardens.
According to an initial statute of the new security service, approved by Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava on October 9, the service had the right, “in case of necessity”, to provide security for Tbilisi Mayor, chairman of the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) and for other municipality officials.
After the decision triggered controversy, the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office amended statute of its security service and removed a provision, which allowed the service to provide security to Tbilisi mayor and other municipality official. Some other provisions, such as giving the service the right to perform unspecified functions “envisaged by the law”, have also been removed.
Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, who is President Saakashvili’s close ally and elected on the post for four-year term in May, 2010, will have the right to appoint and dismiss head of the municipal security service, who will be reporting directly to the Mayor.
Funds for the operation of the new service will be allocated from the Tbilisi budget, which requires approval from the 50-member Tbilisi City Council, where 36 seats are currently occupied by members from President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party.
The new service will be made up of seven units; among them are: rapid reaction unit; as well as separate units for providing security to Tbilisi municipality’s various facilities and administrative buildings, parks and gardens.
Head of the Tbilisi City Hall’s legal department, Irakli Abesadze, said on October 10, that the municipality’s security service employees would have no right to carry firearm, InterPressNews agency reported. He claimed that saving of funds was the reason behind setting up of such service.
Last week President Saakashvili, whose UNM party will lose control over the cabinet, which will be formed by the election winner Georgian Dream coalition, issued two decrees taking under his subordination two agencies previously under the control of the government ministries.
According to October 5 presidential decree the Agency for Special State Communications was transferred from the subordination of the Interior Ministry to the Special State Protection Service (SSPS); the latter is under the subordination of the President and is in charge of providing security to high-ranking officials.
The Agency for Special State Communications is in charge of running secure communication lines for top level and senior officials, among them the President, parliamentary speaker, members of the National Security Council and others.
Also on October 5 President Saakashvili issued a decree transferring state agency in charge of maintenance and providing proper functioning of governmental and presidential residences and facilities under the subordination of SSPS; previously the agency was under the subordination of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.
Several watchdog and civil society organizations, such as Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association; Transparency International Georgia; Economic Policy Research Center and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, said in a joint statement on October 9 that these two decisions by the President were not expedient in a post-election period when new parliament and government were not yet formed.