|Newly appointed Defense Minister is talking
tough, demanding the arrest of those
who “pushed the Georgian army into a worse
situation than it was before the [Rose] Revolution.”
The Defense Minister listed the names of those officials who are allegedly responsible for this misappropriation of funds and for, as he put it, “pushing the Georgian army into a worse situation than it was before the [Rose] Revolution.”
“Former Deputy Defense Minister Paata Gaprindashvili, chief of the army development foundation Akaki Chkhenkeli, chief of the Infrastructure Department of the Defense Ministry Vakhtang Chelidze, chief of the Infrastructure Department of the General Staff Amiran Khidasheli. I want these persons to go to jail within a month,” Irakli Okruashvili said.
Paata Gaprindashvili served as Deputy Defense Minister in 2004, when the Defense Minister’s position was held by Giorgi Baramidze. Irakli Okruashvili replaced Baramidze as a result of a recent cabinet reshuffle in December. Currently, Giorgi Baramidze is the State Minister in charge of Euro-Atlantic integration issues.
After these statements by Okruashvili ex-Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze told Tbilisi-based Mze television that Okruashvili “did not talk about facts," but rather "these were only his assumptions.” “I will not make any other comments,” Giorgi Baramidze said.
At the specially convened news conference Irakli Okruashvili also spoke about the particular cases of financial fraud in the army.
“According to papers and documents, construction of barracks in many military units is finished; but in reality the situation is absolutely different. In most of the military units the construction of barracks is not over yet. I sent these documents to the General Prosecutor’s Office several days ago,” Okruashvili said.
The Defense Minister also said that many military units are still supplied with low quality food. “On the other hand, in many cases less food is supplied to the military units than is envisaged by the contracts,” Irakli Okruashvili added.
“The food also is often stolen from the military units. This latter is a minor problem and the Defense Ministry will deal with this kind of problem without General Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.
He said that according to official Defense Ministry documents, the barracks in the Nikozi military unit in the Gori district is currently being reconstructed. “70,000 Lari is allocated for this purpose. But the barracks in that military unit were already reconstructed by me, while serving as the Interior Minister [in June-December 2004]. This money has just disappeared,” Okruashvili said.
“5,000 Lari was spent to repair elevators in the Defense Ministry. Despite this, none of them work,” Irakli Okruashvili said.
He said that because of this “alarming situation” in the army, many officials will be sacked “and not only sacked, but arrested as well.”