Georgia's PM

Speculation is rife. Zurab Zhvania is dead, along with Raul Usupov. If one wanted to take full control of the Georgian government there are three posts that hold the most power. Mikhail Saakashvili would be a prime suspect if, along with the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, Nino Burjanadze, also ended up dead. It is interesting to note that the BBC reports “Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has said he is taking charge of the government following the death of his prime minister on Wednesday.” Georgian media reports that

Saakashvili, who has personally assumed the leadership of the executive, will have to appoint new prime minister within a week after consulting with the parliament’s factions. The candidate will have to nominate new cabinet members and introduce them to parliament for approval within ten days. According to the constitution, the cabinet is automatically dissolved in case the prime minister stops fulfilling his duties with any reason.

I think this will be a wait and see, who is appointed will be interesting.

Zhvania was a man who turned coats many times. What is strange about his death was how strange his death was. A faulty heater causing monoxide poisoning just doesn’t sound right. Both are likely to have been wealthy, both would have had to have been asleep alone in, what I’m told, was a modern apartment. In order for them both to die a host of factors would have had to come together.

Some in Georgia suspect Saakashvili, known to be a cunning politician. Similar methods were used by previous leaders, including Shevardnadze, in order to gain almost total power. Other suspects include the Ossetians – though a sophisticated assassination by smugglers is unlikely. Usupov was a senior politician in the area surrounding contested South Ossetia, and following the car bomb in Gori this week, some might say the points the finger at Ossetians.

Some may say the FSB, directed by Putin, could carry out such a killing, and make it appear accidental. What would Putin have to gain? Destabilising Georgia is an idea for him, since disputes over Abkazia are ongoing. The massive B-T-C oil pipeline going through Georgia is due to be completed this year, a pipeline Moscow was never happy with, since it took away valuable oil transit revenues from their own Caspian wells.

However it should be noted that Zhvania was in favour of selling a gas pipeline to a Russian company, Gazprom. Something that others in Georgia, including Nino Burjanadze, were keenly against. So who would gain by a killing a proponent of selling strategic pipelines to Russia…some countries come to mind, but I could get bogged down in a host of conspiracy theories.

There appear to be simply too many reasons as to why this was not simply an accident, and I think to discount the possibility that they were murdered would be naive.