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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Monday, February 8
Gia Chanturia – I do not see myself as the united opposition candidate

"I am 90% certain I will be the Christian-Democrats’ Mayoral candidate but I have not made a final decision yet. This will be known on February 12," Gia Chanturia states in an interview with Versia.

"I chose the Christian-Democrats because they asked me to represent them, but I would have chosen them anyway. This movement has been valuable for Georgia since the days of Chavchavadze and Nikoladze. The current team is balanced indeed. Their approaches are more or less acceptable for me. I consider that we do not have the luxury of destroying everything, we have been doing this for 20 years and it cannot go on any longer,” Chanturia says.

"I will tell you directly – it is good to have as many candidates as possible. This will give citizens greater choice. Primaries are a positive thing when there are 10 candidates and the one with the best programme is selected. But I have not seen any programmes presented yet. That is why I believe primaries are not the right way to proceed.

"I am not a party candidate, for I believe the Tbilisi Mayor should not have a party affiliation. I do not see myself as an opposition candidate either. I am telling you sincerely that I am not anyone’s candidate. The only thing that concerns me is keeping my promises to the people," Chanturia says.

"Competition is determined by who stands. I positively evaluate the activities of the present Mayor. We should learn to give credit where it is due. He could have made mistakes but we should not ignore the good things he has done. At this time I do not have any answers. That is why I am meeting the people. I will tell you how I will address their problems after these meetings.

"If needed I will assist Ugulava. I cannot give advice in medicine but I can in the sphere of energy. I am knowledgeable in that sphere, so why should I not assist the Tbilisi Mayor no matter who he is?" Chanturia asks.

Asked about his prospects of being elected Mayor, Chanturia says, "If we manage to find ways of reolving people's problems I suppose our chances will increase. I have no personal political ambitions for I am not a politician. If there is a memorandum stating that the Tbilisi Mayor must not stand in Presidential elections for 15-20 years I shall be the first to sign it. The post of Mayor is not a stepping stone for achieving other political goals. I do not intend to be a politician, the President or the Prime Minister. I only want to help my country and my people by using my experience," Chanturia concludes.

40,000 shrinkage in police numbers

Rezonansi writes that The Ministry of Internal Affairs is being reorganised. It is reported that approximately 40,000 policemen will be sacked. The MIA has made no comment on the matter.

According to reliable sources, the reorganisation will not affect the Special Operations Division (SOD) or the Constitutional Security Department (CSD).

"According to current information, the reductions will not touch the so-called elite police units who are devoted to Saakashvili. Mostly it will affect the Patrol Police. The staff reduction is connected with gaps in the budget and more and more policemen expressing their dissatisfaction with the present regime. Today Saakashvili needs the police to support him. The Shevardnadzisation of the police has started. They will behave the same way as in the epoch of Shevardnadze, but without getting the privileges they had then," Conservative Party Co-Leader Kakha Kukava says.

"The majority of policemen are as underprivileged as the rest of society. The privileged departments are the political police of the Government, namely, SOD and CSD. These are people who perform all kinds of unlawful actions. Staff reductions will not touch them because they are the basis of the present Government," the Alliance for Georgia’s Sozar Subari says.

"The police and law enforcement structures are the only force Saakashvili has. But he does not seem to completely trust them, and has therefore started to cleanse them of disloyal elements. Policemen are ordinary Georgians with families who love their country. They are well aware that they will have to shed blood to maintain Saakashvili’s regime. They do not want this. According to reliable information, wages were not given to anyone except SOD and CSD staff last month," analyst Paata Zakareishvili told the publication.