In what is definitely not intended as a late April Fool's Day joke, Georgian Interior Minister Alexander Chikhaidze has warned that Euromaidan is coming to Georgia. In a sweeping accusation published on April 7, Georgia’s policeman-in-chief claimed that former President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement, backed by Ukrainian nationalists, is plotting to overthrow the Georgian government.
Georgians well know that Saakashvili is doing some sort of post-revolution consultancy in post-Euromaidan Ukraine. But to hear Chikaidze tell it, that's not the half of it.
A delegation of Euromaidan activists have now allegedly come to Georgia to train the UNM in how to stock up car tires and pitch tents in the streets, declared Chikhaidze in an interview with the weekly Prime Time.
Using an old Soviet refrain, the 28-year-old minister vowed an adequate response to any provocations.
The UNM, its Rose Revolution days well behind it, has described the statement as “utter nonsense.”
It has accused Chikaidze, and the Georgian Dream of trying to divert attention away from the real issues.
One real issue on hand, and not a comfortable one for the government, is the controversial death of Shalva Tatukhashvili, a witness in a case, in absentia, against Data Akhalaia, a senior interior ministry official under Saakashvili, and the brother of jailed ex-Defense/Interior/Prison Boss Bacho Akhalaia. Tatukhashvili’s father and brothers have accused the prosecutor’s office of torturing him to extract a damning testimony against Akhalaia. Prosecutors deny the allegation and, after an internal probe, claimed that Tatuakhashvili died of a drug and alcohol overdose. But his family does not believe it.
The UNM has seized on the case as alleged proof of Georgia's opposition being targeted by selective prosecutions. After Saakashvili turned down a prosecutor’s summons for questioning on several cases, his former key counselor, former National Security Council Secretary Giga Bokeria, was summoned for questioning last week in an alleged case of money laundering.
The prosecution of UNM officials, which the Georgian Dream is wont to call “restoration of justice,” has caused concern in the US and EU, but Georgia's young interior minister, for now, seems mainly concerned about the so-called Ukrainian plot.