Irakli Garibashvili, Georgia’s new Interior Minister, named on October 30 five of his deputies with all of them having experience of working in either security or interior ministry structures in the past.
Two of the deputy interior ministers are lawmakers, elected from the Georgian Dream coalition’s party list; their MP credential will be renounced as they move to the executive government.
Lasha Natsvlishvili, who was deputy state security minister in 2001-2003, will be First Deputy Interior Minister.
Natsvlishvili, who is now a lawmaker from PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, worked for the prosecutor’s office in 1990s before joining Special State Protection Service in 1999 where he served for two years before becoming deputy state security minister in 2001.
In 2004-2008 he was a majoritarian MP, elected in Lagodekhi single-mandate constituency. At the time he was with the Republican Party (now part of the Georgian Dream coalition), but he quit the party in mid-2010.
Gela Khvedelidze, who will become deputy interior minister, is also a lawmaker from Ivanishvili’s GDDG party. In 1993-2004 Khvedelidze served on various posts in law enforcement agencies, including in counter-terrorism center.
Levan Izoria, new deputy interior minister, was the rector of police academy in 2004-2006. Izoria, who graduated as a doctor of law from University of Göttingen in 2002, was with Irakli Alasania’s Our Georgia-Free Democrats party (Georgian Dream coalition member). He run in the Chkhorotsku single-mandate constituency as Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP candidate in the October 1 parliamentary elections, but lost the race to UNM’s candidate.
Aleko Tabatadze, new deputy interior minister, has also been with OGFD party; the Interior Minister Garibashvili described Tabatadze as “a highly skilled professional” who worked for law enforcement agencies in 1991-2008; he served as chief of police in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo and Vake districts and was head of the national anti-narcotics bureau.
A week before the October 1 parliamentary elections, Tabatadze who was Georgian Dream’s MP candidate in its party list, was accused by the Interior Ministry of being involved in bribing police officers. At the time Tabatadze denied allegations as part of the authorities’ campaign against political opponents. Before the elections, President Saakashvili claimed that Tabatadze was “a drug dealer” while serving in the law enforcement agencies. Tabatadze said at the time that President Saakashvili’s allegation was part of smear campaign against the Georgian Dream.
Alexi Batiashvili will be the fifth deputy interior minister. In 1995-2004 he worked on various positions in the security service; then he worked at the Ministry of Justice until 2009.
Sixth post of the deputy interior minister, which is in charge of border guard police, remains vacant.
“I am sure that this team will be very efficient in pursuing the Interior Ministry’s main policy priority, which is based on justice, rule of law and humanness,” the new Interior Minister said adding that “all professionals and honest employees” of the ministry will keep their posts.
“We will confirm in next few months who efficiently we can work,” Garibashvili added.
Garibashvili, 30, who is the youngest member of Georgia’s new cabinet, was little-known to the wider public before becoming the Interior Minister. Garibashvili, who is regarded to be Ivanishvili’s right-hand man, studied international relations and law at the Tbilisi State University, before graduating University of Paris-I, Panthéon-Sorbonne. Garibashvili has worked with Ivanishvili for last eight years and headed the billionaire’s charitable foundation Cartu before going into politics together with Ivanishvili late last year.
The Interior Ministry is a powerful structure uniting under its subordination broad range of “power-wielding agencies” from police, security and intelligence services to border guard and navy.
A program of PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government envisages structural reforms of the Interior Ministry, including de-coupling security service from the ministry.
On the first stage, however, the new Interior Minister plans to abolish two powerful structures within the ministry – Special Operative Department (SOD) and Constitutional Security Department (CSD).
According to Garibashvili functions of these agencies would be distributed to other, relevant branches of the ministry.
SOD mainly handles with crimes related to weapons and cargo smuggling, organized crime, drug and human trafficking; money laundering and extortion. Garibashvili says that functions of SOD would go under the Criminal Police, an agency in charge of investigating severe crimes.
CSD is handling crimes related to corruption among officials, as well as is in charge of addressing threats to constitutional order and of terrorism. Garibashvili says that CSD’s some of the functions would go under the counter-intelligence unit and in addition a new “strong anti-corruption agency” will be established.
Garibashvili, said that a Bureau for Reforms and Development would be established, which would work on “a long-term development strategy.”