Georgian Defense Ministry’s leadership has tried to shift responsibility for highly controversial statement on death of a Georgian volunteer fighter in Ukraine from itself to unspecified, lower lever “ministry employees”, claiming that Defense Minister was not aware in advance about the text which was released.
The statement, which has drawn widespread condemnation, was posted on MoD’s website late on Saturday afternoon and remained there for about 24 hours.
The statement was removed from the website late on Sunday afternoon only about couple of hours after PM Irakli Garibashvili said that such a statement was a “mistake” for which MoD should apologize.
The PM himself had to make these remarks only after public outcry over the statement in which MoD said that “representatives of former authorities” of Georgia are to be blamed for the death of Alexandre Grigolashvili, who fought on the Ukrainian side and was killed in combat in east of the country, because they are encouraging Georgians to fight in Ukraine. MoD also called “on the citizens not to yield to provocation and not to endanger own lives in exchange of various offers.”
Speaking to Tbilisi-based Imedi TV on Sunday evening, Deputy Defense Minister, Levan Girsiashvili, said that MoD leadership, neither him nor Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze, was aware in advance that such a text of the statement was going to be released.
“In general a text of condolence [statement] was agreed with the MoD leadership. The text of the statement, which was [actually released] was not agreed with MoD leadership. It was a mistake of the ministry for which we apologize,” Girsiashvili said.
He was told by one of the anchors from TV studio that “no one can believe that such a statement was not agreed with the leadership prior to its release.”
“The text was prepared by MoD employees, but it was not agreed with the Defense Minister,” the Deputy Defense Minister said.
When asked why the statement was posted on MoD’s website for so long and not removed immediately after MoD leadership learned about it, Girsiashvili responded: “As I told you it was a technical mistake; it was a shortcoming for which we apologize before the society and first and foremost before the family of killed [Georgian volunteer fighter].”
“It means that mistake has been made… Of course there was a shortcoming in management. It is currently being clarified where precisely mistake was done and those who have made it will be appropriately held accountable,” Girsiashvili said.
Asked if he believes that Georgians fighting in Ukraine are there because of the calls and instructions from representatives of the previous authorities as it was suggested in MoD’s statement, Girsiashvili responded: “Of course the fallen Georgian was in Ukraine on his own will and he deemed it his duty to be there defending interests of that country, which has shared interests with Georgia.”