Saakashvili allies arrested in Georgia

By bne IntelliNews November 8, 2012

bne -

Two senior figures connected to Georgia's former government have been arrested and an investigation launched into the country's top broadcaster. President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement claims the move is part of a concerted attack targeted against the president's allies.

The chief-of-staff of the Georgian army, Georgy Kalandadze, was arrested on November 7, hours after Bacho Akhalaia, former interior and defence minister, was questioned by state prosecutors.

Akhalaia, who has served as both defence and interior minister, was arrested November 6. Kazakhstan's financial police have also launched an investigation at the Georgian public broadcaster.

In a televised statement, Saakashvili called the arrests a "source of indignation" and called on the newly elected government, headed by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, to respect state institutions. "We may not agree with each other, but we should not confront our own country," the president said, according to Reuters.

Akhalaia was Georgia's defence minister until his resignation, shortly before the October 1 parliamentary elections, over a prison abuse scandal. He was held for questioning for three hours on November 6, before being released. His lawyer told journalists that he was detained because of allegedly insulting army officers. If found guilty of abuse of power, he could face up to eight years in prison.

MPs from the UNM walked out of a parliamentary session on November 7 in protest. UNM members say they are worried that the new government is taking revenge against the former administration.

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