Georgia mulls investigation of president's handling of Russian war

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2013

bne -

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has backed plans to launch an inquiry into President Mikheil Saakashvili's handling of the 2008 war against Russia. The move is the latest salvo in the fight between the bitter political enemies which took off when the Georgian Dream coaltion trumped the president's ruling party at elections in October.

Ivanishvili has criticised the decision to start fighting before Russia crossed the border into Georgia, saying that it might have been possible to avoid the outbreak of hostilities over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia

Georgian forces were defeated in just five days, and shortly after the war Moscow announced that it was recognising both South Ossetia and another Georgian separatist republic Abkhazia as independent states.

"We must know what happened," Ivanishvili told journalists on April 10, AFP reports. "Questioning by a court is a civilised norm and, if need be, the president should understand this. It is a normal method that a president could be questioned in court."

Verging on the edge of accusing Saakashvili of violating international law, Ivanishvili unleashed some of his strongest direct criticism of the president since his election ushered in the ongoing power struggle between the pair. At the same time, a rapprochement with Moscow is a central plank of his administration.

"I also think that our government, led by the president, acted in an inadequate way," Ivanishvili said according to Reuters. "I consider it absolutely unjustified that military units were put on alert and military actions started before Russia crossed our borders."

Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani has also called for a comprehensive inquiry into the war. A 2009 investigation requested by the European Commission shared blame for the war around, saying that while the fighting was started by the Georgian side, it was provoked by Russia, whose but military response went beyond reasonable limits and violated international law.

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