Five months after claiming that the United National Movement (UNM) had been purchasing car tires for staging burning barricades to “destabilize” the country, Interior Minister Alexander Tchikaidze has again alleged that the opposition party, its leader ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and their affiliated non-governmental organizations are plotting to “stir chaos”.
In a newspaper interview published by Alia tabloid on September 10, Tchikaidze said that “conspiracy to seize power is possibly being plotted”, which, he said without providing details, is currently being investigated.
Tchikaidze, 29, has been recently facing calls from opponents to resign over what they call is his incompetence and failure to tackle rising crime, denied by the authorities. Night-time police measures in recent days, described as crime prevention efforts, involving extensive use of stop-and-frisk powers, during which cases of police abuse were also reported, drew more criticism from the opponents.
In the newspaper interview, Tchikaidze claims that ex-president Saakashvili during his recent meetings in Ukraine and Turkey with UNM party representatives “has given instructions to set up a well-organized 500-member mobile group, which will be divided into separate smaller mobile groups.”
“They should act in a provocative way, including in front of police and try to provoke police, create force majeure situations, stage aggressive protest rallies through manipulating with various topics, such as crime situation, social and economic issues, relations with Russia, to make use of problems of internally displaced persons, provoke workers’ strikes on strategic facilities, create chaotic situation. Their goal is to create negative background both in Georgian society and in foreign media and diplomatic community. For example Free Zone [a non-governmental organization] members have been instructed to get information from ambulance doctors about cases of deaths and to then portray [these death cases] as a result of as if restricted access [to ambulance service] imposed by the government. Through this they want to show new regulations, which the government adopted for ambulance service reform, in bad light,” Tchikaidze said in the newspaper interview.
“Upon Saakashvili’s instruction, national minorities should also be involved in creating chaos, mobile groups composed of national minorities should be set up in Georgia. This is a part of Saakashvili’s plan,” he said.
“I declare that this plan is doomed to failure. They will also fail to create even an illusion of chaos and anarchy in the country,” he said.
He said that there are many non-governmental organizations in Georgia, whose work he “respects”, but there are also groups “acting under the guise of non-governmental organizations, which in fact serve specific political group’s interests.”
“We will not let them to create an illusion of chaos in the country. Let everyone know that those who choose an anti-constitutional path and who pose a threat to the country will be punished strictly under the law,” Tchikaidze said.
“We will carry out all the measures envisaged by the law to eradicate anti-state actions. Concrete measures have already been taken. According to information available to us, a conspiracy with the purpose of seizing power is possibly being plotted. Criminal case has been brought and an investigation is underway but I cannot specify details because of the ongoing investigation,” the Interior Minister said.
Commenting on the interior minister’s allegations, PM Irakli Garibashvili told journalists on September 10 that the state will be “merciless” against those who will try to resort to “destructive actions.”
“In general Saakashvili is known as a destructor and main source of turmoil, but I want to tell everyone that any attempt to bring in chaos and unrest will end very badly for them and the state will be merciless against those – no matter who they are and no matter under whose guise they act – who will dare to resort to destructive actions,” PM Garibashvili said.
UNM lawmaker, Sergo Ratiani, responded that the government, incapable of tackling multiple problems in the country, including increased crime rate, tries to divert public attention from actual issues with “tales about conspiracies.”
In April, 2014 Tchikaidze also in a newspaper interview leveled similar allegations, claiming that the UNM was trying to “stir unrests” in the country. When in July he was asked during parliamentary hearings by opposition lawmakers if he was ready to present any evidence to back his allegations, Tchikaidze responded that it was “a very good preventive interview” and added that he had “facts” supporting his allegations, but did not elaborate.