Interview with Dmitry Babich

Dmitry Babich is a political analyst for Russian Profile magazine. In this interview with RT he puts into context the recent accusations that have rocked Georgian politics.

Russia Today: To start with, how serious do you think the allegations that Irakly Okruashvili has against Georgian President, Mr Saakashvili, are?

Dmitry Babich:Of course, it’s a sensation in Georgia, but the main question is how far will Okurashvilli go and whether the West, the European Union, believe what says about Saakashvili. You know, if something similar was said about [Ukraine’s former] President Kuchma, for example, the West would have certainly believed. We remember the ‘Gongadze affair’. And the case with Zhvania was interesting because he was the number two person in the country. Actually, at the beginning of the ‘Rose revolution’, Georgia was ruled by a triumvirate of Saakashvili, Zhvania and Burdzhanadze. So these are very serious new accusations, which will have to be discussed.

RT: But the crimes Okruashvili is speaking about were allegedly committed when he was part of the government. Will it now damage Okruashvili's image?

D.B.: Well, this is a logical question, which comes to mind as soon as you hear about this. But on the other hand, Okurashvili owes his career to Saakashvili. And if he quarreled with his boss then he is obviously ready to go pretty far. 

RT: Saakashvili and Okurashvili were very close allies not so long ago. So where are the roots of their disagreement?

D.B.: I think, the real roots of the divide are the imperfection of Georgia’s political system. Not a single Georgian leader has been replaced in a peaceful way. President Gamsakhurdia was subverted, President Shevarnadze also left power as a result of a coup.  So, probably Okurashvili sees no other way of succeeding Saakashvili but by waging a campaign against him. And this campaign can be called a smear campaign.
 
RT: Apparently, Okruashvili is now trying to compete against president Saakashvili.  What are his chances of becoming President of Georgia?
 
D.B.:Most of the analysts see Okruashvili as the number one or number two adversary to President Saakashvili. We will see how the situation develops in [the Georgian breakaway republics of] Abhazia and South Ossetia. So far Okruashvili’s political trump card is reunification of Georgia. He promised to celebrate the New Year in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. He hasn't succeeded in that so far. So we will see how the event will develop. But in general, I would say that Okruashvili has a good chance if the nationalist sentiment in the country develops. But I do not see huge changes in Georgia’s foreign policy towards Russia if Okurashvili comes to power. Relations are already bad, and I don’t think even Okurashvili can make them worse.