Saakashvili: Russian Oligarchs Fund Georgia Opposition
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Apr.’09 / 17:28
In an interview with Newsweek published on April 11, President Saakashvili speaks of sources of opposition funding, about his U.S. friends, his stance of U.S. under Bush and Obama administrations, as well as about being disappointed with the West putting relationships with Georgia on hold while waiting for the outcome of the street protest rallies.
Asked who sponsors the Georgian opposition, Saakashvili responded: “Most of the money—millions of dollars—comes from Russian oligarchs. I have documentary proof of that, which I am not making public yet. Whether the money is being sent from Russia under the supervision of the Russian government, that I do not know.”
He said that the Russian authorities would “probably be happy to see me leave the post.” Although saying that he did not think that Russia’s PM and President, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, respectively, “would appreciate” an idea of again attacking Georgia, Saakashvili also added: “I could suppose that some of the military authorities in Russia think of attacking Georgia today, to say later that it was me who invaded Russia to distract the attention of my opposition.”
He said that in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia Russia had 5,000 troops in each.
Asked about who where his supporters in the United States, Saakashvili said he had “quite a few good contacts;” he said that John McCain was he “best friend” and added that he was expected to arrive in Georgia “in a week or so.”
“I have good relationships with Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and especially Richard Holbrooke—he is my teacher. I learned a lot of great things from him,” Saakashvili said.
“I used to idealize America under Bush, when ideas were above pragmatic politics. Now it is a new time, when pragmatic politics are in charge of ideas. That might spoil the America I know,” he said.
Asked what he would change in his policy towards Russia if he could turn time back, Saakashvili responded that he could “hardly do anything differently.”
“The values we appreciate are not embraced by Russia. Should I have compromised? If I did, we would have been like Kyrgyzstan, losing our democratic values now, or as poor as Armenia, whose economy fully depends on Russia,” he said.
He also said that he was not hurt by the criticism in Georgia. “I am hearing it from two opposition TV channels [Maestro and Kavkasia] all day long,” Saakashvili said.
“I did not expect the West to put all the relationships with us on hold while waiting for this revolution. An official delegation from France decided to postpone their visit. A Turkish company moved a scheduled contract signing until after April 9, and an Arab company until April 12. What is the matter with these people? Do we stop going to Paris or Strasbourg during their street protests?” he added.