The Georgian parliament on September 19 unanimously approved the nomination of Jemal Gahokidze as minister of state security. Gahokidze told the parliament that he plans to decentralize the organization’s management, create separate services for intelligence and counterintelligence, reduce manpower by 10 percent, transfer the crack Omega combat unit from his ministry to the government protection service, and begin the process of lifting the secrecy from the former Georgian SSR KGB’s archives.
Gahokidze, 47, has served for more than 20 years in the Internal Affairs Ministry, most recently as deputy minister. He also lectures on legal matters at Tbilisi University. President Eduard Shevardnadze brought Gahokidze to the State Security Ministry only last April as deputy minister, and named him acting minister in July when the incumbent, Shota Kviraia, was forced to resign. Shevardnadze’s choice of an outsider would seem to reflect an intention to reform the organization. (Iprinda, Sakinform, Russian agencies, September 19)
Kviraia was a Shevardnadze loyalist who played a key role in foiling the August 1995 conspiracy against the president, subsequently purging some pro-Moscow officers linked to that plot. However, Kviraia opposed some of the reforms that Gahokidze has now announced. Kviraia resigned after opposition leader Irina Sarishvili publicized evidence, leaked to her from within the ministry, that State Security officers had bugged the telephones of certain independent journalists during Kviraia’s tenure, though apparently not on his orders.
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