Irakli Okruashvili’s Speech at Presentation of his Party
/ 25 Sep.'07 / 17:50

September, 25, 2007

I want to tell you in advance that we will not have a Q&A session after the statement. A lot of questions have accumulated. I understand this very well. I will answer all of them during the day or tomorrow in various TV interviews. I will not leave any question unanswered.
 
Recent developments in the country, the fascist tendencies and the steps taken by the authorities against the Georgian state, have made us [the new political party] come together before the public in this team with our position.

The style of Saakashvili’s governance, which has gone beyond the limits, has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization’, and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.

All these have yielded concrete results. The key objective was to intimidate the people. And so, today, many people refuse to engage in public life.

Only an illusory struggle against corruption is underway. The zero tolerance announced by the president is obviously selective. It directed only against the poor, as it happened during Shevardnadze’s presidency, while ‘thieves of camels’ [meaning serious criminals] and murderers still hold government positions and impunity is increasing by the day.

Corruption allowed only for a certain category of people, including top officials, Saakashvili’s family and his close allies.

While the prisons are full of inmates, who committed crimes because of their grave social conditions, people, who have accumulated millions over the past four years, still hold seats in the government, although they came to power almost in rags. 

I want to inform you about one fact: three years ago, when I was the interior minister, I arrested the president’s uncle, Temur Alasania, on extortion and bribe-taking charges, amounting to USD 200,000. However I released him on the insistence of the president.

The key achievement of our authorities - I have to use the word “our”, because I was once also a member of that team, hence I assume responsibility for certain mistakes – was the eradication of injustice and the establishment of perceived official fairness. However, Saakashvili let [Interior Minister Vano] Merabishvili and his family trample all over it.

There is a vigorous struggle against respected people, including those working in cultural or other spheres. They have been declared as low-grade citizens, who are seen as posing a danger to the achievements of the Rose Revolution.

Saakashvili is trying to trample on the key human value, dignity. Look at his circle and you will discover that there is not a single dignified person around him. Indeed, this is the main criterion for their selection, to ensure that they do not overshadow the ‘brilliance’ of their chief.

Teenagers are deliberately taught not to respect the older generation. The generations of our parents and grandparents are identified with Shevardnadze and people in their forties or fifties are deemed second-rate citizens.

During Shevardnadze’s presidency internally displaced persons from Abkhazia and Samachablo [South Ossetia] were not considered as full-fledged citizens, they were not considered as human beings at all. The authorities’ attitude reflected an Apartheid-type mentality. Saakashvili has successfully continued this tradition.
 
The public is divided into two categories [by the authorities]: those, who are washed down and those, who wash down [a reference to comments made by President Saakashvili who once described some of his opponents as washed down people], and this has been directly voiced by the president.

Those, who have dissenting opinions, are denounced as enemies of the state and naturally the government does not engage in dialogue with them.

Another key feature of the authorities is their struggle against Georgian traditions and values. A deliberate campaign is underway against the Georgian [Orthodox] Church. There are obvious attempts to re-write Georgian history. There are attempts to push the idea that there was nothing Georgian before the Rose Revolution and everything is being created now, under the guidance of Saakashvili, who has an inner hatred of the Georgian Church, which is the most respected institution among the people. He perceives nothing but a competitor in it [the Georgian Orthodox Church].

When I was a member of his team, I often had to listen to his ideas which aimed at splitting the church and discrediting the clergy.

I believed and still believe that Georgia will unite only with a united society. Georgia will unite only if the entire society wants it, only when the country has a president, who does not insult his own society, his own people. 

This was the key purpose of my activities in government. I have done nothing but good for my country. And naturally, any attempts to discredit me will fail.

After quitting the government - Saakashvili’s statement about my plans to study abroad was funny - I tried not to cause any discomfort for Saakashvili. He also asked me not to quit the government with much noise and I took it with understanding. It was my sense of civil responsibility. And officers from the armed forces, whom I still consider to be my friends, also asked me not to cause trouble. They argued that our enemy should not be allowed to see us divided.

I quit quietly and for a year I tried to watch closely the authorities’ activities with an unbiased eye while they were addressing the issues of territorial integrity and others as well.

We were only a step away from reclaiming one of our lost territories if it were not for the president’s incapability, weakness and inability to take a political and historical decision, as he was afraid of losing power. We [referring to himself and his co-thinkers on South Ossetia] did not plan to take spontaneous, unilateral actions regarding the issue; we did not plan to take decisions which would have been taken by the Commander-in-Chief. Naturally, our spontaneous actions would have shattered the country’s stability.

I had hoped that during the last year he [President Saakashvili] would have exercised good judgement and made, I repeat, a historical decision about the country’s reintegration, or even denounced all the existing agreements to de-legalize the Russian peacekeepers’ presence in Georgia. However, there have been no results, except for one – this is [head of the Tbilisi-backed South Ossetian provisional administration Dimitri] Sanakoev, who has no respect among the Ossetian people, who is simply a fiction and an imaginary attempt at uniting our country.

While President Saakashvili is bringing the country to its knees and fails to give hope of a return of the Georgian people to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, while our population is deliberately insulted - you can recollect his [Saakashvili’s] numerous statements - while he stages shows about the country’s revival, we have no other choice but to enter the public arena.

In this situation, we think that our silence, staying in the shadows and watching the developments from outside, is a crime in itself. We are launching the Movement for United Georgia, so that the nation will be united and the entire population united. We launch this movement to ensure that every citizen of this country has a worthy future, not only Saakashvili’s grandmother and grandfather.

We think it is the duty of every citizen of our country to join this movement. 

Join us, if you believe that Georgia is “first and foremost”, join us, if you believe that the country is going in the wrong direction; do not be afraid of a persons like [Education Minister Alexander] Lomaia or [an influential lawmaker from the ruling party Giga] Bokeria, do not be afraid of people like Merabishvili or Saakashvili. We once overcame hopelessness; we joined together and saw Shevardnadze’s administration off.

Now, the time has come to unite to ensure these infidels no longer govern us. This statement is jointly made by our entire team.

This evening I will have an opportunity to speak about other issues,  and speculations, various issues like office buildings. I will speak about all the crimes, which were committed by the authorities, about the crimes, which were masterminded by the authorities and I have many times received orders from President Saakashvili to liquidate certain influential and important figures. However, I have never agreed to do this. I will provide answers about everything.

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