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Dress rehearsal for the big reshuffle

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, August 25
The top story of the last week was the sudden firing of the Minister of Economic Development Lasha Zhvania by Prime Minister Nika Gilauri. But, was it sudden and unexpected? The analysts and politicians of different view points and calibre have been commenting on the event. The President and his team maintain that nothing out of the ordinary has happened and this is just an ordinary change in the bureaucratic machine.

The Opposition and most independent analysts see in this event something deeper. They speculate about forthcoming changes of top level personnel and signs of a split in the country’s leadership. Of course changes in the government are ordinary events anywhere. However, the analysts paid attention to the form of this change. Usually such a step has been confirmed by the President and it was said that the discharged officials either were going into business or they were promoted or moved to a symbolic position. Minister Zhvania was discharged absolutely unexpectedly, and while on his way to western Georgia President Saakashvili who had not been informed about this step suspended his visit to West Georgia and returned to the capital.

Usually, discharged or removed ministers don’t protest whereas this time Zhvania on his return to Tbilisi held a briefing for the journalists and accused the PM of not handling his job professionally.

As opposition economist Niko Orvelashvili suggested the scandal was created deliberately so that the population will be given a scapegoat who can be blamed for the shortcomings in the country. Other analysts however speculate about a split in the leadership. From the very beginning the Rose leadership always stressed the fact of its unity, today opposition suggests that a split among the Rose leadership is visible. New Rights member Mamuka Katsitadze thinks that there is a crisis among those leading the country. Conservative Kakha Kukava also agrees with this opinion and further suggests that there is a confrontation between Saakashvili and Ugulava. Analyst Ramaz Klimiashvili thinks that the confrontation inside the country’s leadership is a sign of Saakashvili’s getting weaker. Presumably it is premature to suggest that the President’s power has been weakened. He can reshuffle and fire the whole government including the PM, however minister Zhvania’s discharge was completely the initiative of PM Gilauri. Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili suggests that this step is an indicator of a new wave of Democracy. Thus the Prime Minister takes the decision without having to first discuss it with the President.

As it is known Georgian society is very caught up with different rumors which sometimes come true. Recently Georgian media has aired several articles on possible changes in the state government including the Prime Minister. There are rumors that law enforcement ministers are confronting Ugulava and his team. As for Zhvania’s dismissal, the newspaper Akhali Taoba suggests that he was sacrificed to the business interests of a very important figure and this interest is connected to the construction of one of the hydro electric power stations in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.

Former MP and economic professor Lado Papava thinks that Zhvania lost in his battle against Bendukidze’s team. According to Papava, Zhvania started confronting Bendukidze as soon as he became minister and eventually he became the victim of Bendukidze’s conspiracy.

The rumors are here, opinions differ and summer is almost over, the time for big changes is approaching. but the country is facing very serious challenges as the economic crisis is not yet over. Who will be the next minister of economy, and what rescue scenario he will suggest for the country so far is unknown.