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Two reserves what for?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 26
On March 15, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats Irakli Alasania accused the government of creating secret paramilitary groups. He presented his findings to the diplomatic corps, and sent documents he claims prove his assertions to the National Security Council. The government responded that the groups were actually part of a voluntary reserve system, a formal and legal segment of Georgia's military institution, and that Alasania's documents contain "no interesting information".

These reserve groups have been under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense since November 2011. Volunteers undertake a five-day training course on a military base, but do not have the right to carry firearms. According to Minister of Defense Bacho Akhalaia, so far there are 40 000 people involved in the reserve system, but the number may increase up to 100 000. He maintained that the reserve exists to aid military operations and in case of natural disasters.

This explanation, however, did not satisfy certain opposition representatives, who believe that the government trying to train and arm specialized groups of their supporters, for possible mobilization during the elections. Rather than using the police or other official institutions, they prefer to form paramilitary groups to use for partisan purposes. Some opposition members even think that this proves the Saakashvili administration is prepared to do anything to maintain its grip on power.

The opposition rightly asked, if this is a legitimate national program, why it was not widely publicized across the country. Why was everything so confidential? Why Samegrelo, which is close to the conflict zone and thus a reason for a reservist presence, but not Gori or Kareli? What is the cost of training 40 000 people for five days? Where is the money coming from? Many skeptics also wonder if there is a real need for creating a second echelon of reservists, after the mandatory military training that most young Georgian men undergo.

So as some questions are answered, many more are appearing.