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Saakashvili Proposes ‘Patriot Act’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Aug.'08 / 23:12

Saakashvili said late on August 29:
• Russia wants regime change in Georgia;
 ‘Patriot Act’ is needed;
 No civil liberties will be restricted;
State should resume party funding.

President Saakashvili said on August 29 that Georgia needed, what he called, “a patriot act” to deter possible attempts to overthrow the overnment through foreign intervention.

Speaking with the local authorities in the port town of Poti late on August 29, where Russian forces still maintain two outposts, Saakashvili said that Russia’s major goal in Georgia was to overthrow his government.

“It's obvious that their goal was not to take over Tskhinvali, which is just a provincial Georgian town - only a few people in Russia know where it is,” Saakashvili said at the meeting, which was televised live by Rustavi 2 TV. “Their [Russia’s] goal was to take over Tbilisi and to overthrow the government.”

He said that the Russians had made it clear even publicly a few days ago – apparently referring to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s August 26 statement in which it said “the Saakashvili regime does not at all meet the high standards set by the world community” and added it was sure that “sooner or later” the Georgian people would have “worthy leaders.”

Saakashvili said that he planned to propose that Parliament develop “a patriot act” and added that the new legislation – the details of which he did not elaborate – would in no way infringe on civil liberties.

“It will be carried out under the conditions of maintaining democracy; freedom and liberties,” he added, and repeated it a couple of more times.

He said that the act was needed to prevent “external attempts to destabilize the country.”

The first time ruling party politicians spoke of the need for, what they called, “a U.S.-style Patriot Act” was in the summer, 2006, shortly after the Kodori events.

When some opposition politicians condemned the Georgian military crack-down on rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani’s militia groups in the upper Kodori Gorge in July 2006, they were immediately labeled by ruling party politicians as traitors. Nika Gvaramia, who is now the justice minister, and at that time was a lawmaker, said on July 29, 2006 that Parliament had to develop “legislation similar to that in the United States, I mean the Patriot Act… which will be directed against treacherous statements against the motherland.”

The issue, however, was shelved shortly afterwards and remained so until now.

Also on August 29, President Saakashvili said that the authorities should revise a decision on suspending state funding for several parties.

“We should finance political parties and impose strict control to prevent any funding coming from foreign countries – I mean from one particular country,” he said, obviously referring to Russia.

In a highly controversial move in July, Parliament passed an amendment to the law that denied six opposition parties, which boycotted the new parliament, state funding. The move was mainly perceived as punishment for the boycott, which came about because of opposition allegations that the May 21 parliamentary elections were rigged.

President Saakashvili said on August 29 that there had been “certain disagreements” over the party funding issue, but these disagreements, he said, should now be resolved.

He also said that despite “some exceptions,” the opposition in general had acted in an appropriate manner during the Russian invasion.

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