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Georgia: Can Tbilisi Keep Politics Out of Military?

At Mukhatgverdi cemetery near Tbilisi, Georgian soldiers pay respects to comrades lost during the conflict with Russia over South Ossetia in August 2008. Georgia’s military has been without a permanent chief of staff following the arrest of Brigadier Gen. Giorgi Kalandadze, a hero of the 2008 war. (Photo: Temo Bardzmashvili)

While a struggle is intensifying in Georgia between Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and President Mikheil Saakashvili over investigations and arrests of former senior government officials, a battle over the nomination of the country’s top military officer appears to be resolved.

Since November 7, when 32-year-old Brig. Gen. Giorgi Kalandadze, a hero of the 2008 war with Russia, was arrested on charges of alleged physical abuse of soldiers, Georgia’s military has been without a permanent chief of staff.

As commander-in-chief, President Saakashvili could have appointed a new chief of staff, but he remained a staunch backer of Kalandadze, denouncing the charges against the brigadier general. Saakashvili also spoke out against the arrest of former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia and nearly a score of other former officials, characterizing the moves as part of a witch-hunt by the Ivanishvili government.

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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.

Georgia: Can Tbilisi Keep Politics Out of Military?

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