Ivanishvili intends to fill that post. So does Vano Merabishvili, who was appointed prime minister in June by Saakashvili, apparently not only to give Merabishvili an electoral advantage but also to quell rumors that the president wanted the job himself, in a Vladimir Putin-like maneuver to stay in power.
Saakashvili’s United National Movement party dominates Parliament with 79 percent of the seats, allowing unquestioned ability to change the constitution. Businesses are reluctant to support the opposition because they fear damaging relations with the ruling party, Nodia said. A recent study of Tbilisi courts by the Lawyers Association, Chugoshvili said, found that judges granted 100 percent of prosecutors’ motions.
Saakashvili moved rapidly to stem the damage from the prison crisis last week, putting George Tugushi, the country’s human rights ombudsman and a persistent critic of the prison system, in charge of it.
‘Voters have a clear choice’
Giga Bokeria, the national security secretary and a key Saakashvili adviser, said he shared the nation’s shock and outrage, and he acknowledged the government’s shortcomings.
“We as a government made a grave mistake when we did not properly evaluate the signals coming from the ombudsman and other civil society groups about the systemic problems in the penitentiary system,” Bokeria said.
Georgia is a democracy, he said in an earlier interview, where the government depends on voters. The country has made huge progress, he said, and more lies ahead.
“There’s a very vigorous and active campaign going on now, and no one is being suffocated,” said Bokeria, who supervises an interagency group charged with ensuring fair elections. “Voters have a clear choice.”
The day after the prison videos were shown, Chugoshvili still looked pale from shock.
“They painted the prisons and put the guards in very nice shirts,” she said. “They have nice little stores where prisoners can shop. They put up posters reminding everyone of their rights. The streets are safe day or night.
“But unless we develop a system of controls, you’ll be safe from the criminals but not from the state.”