Bacho Akhalaia

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Bacho Akhalaia
ბაჩო ახალაია
Bacha Akhalaia (2011).jpg
Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia
In office
July 4, 2012 – September 20, 2012
Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili
Preceded by Vano Merabishvili
Succeeded by Ekaterine Zguladze (acting)
Minister of Defense of Georgia
In office
August 27, 2009 – July 4, 2012
Prime Minister Nika Gilauri
Preceded by Vasil Sikharulidze
Succeeded by Dimitri Shashkin
Personal details
Born October 24, 1980
Zugdidi

Bachana "Bacho" Akhalaia (Georgian: ბაჩანა "ბაჩო" ახალაია; born October 24, 1980 in Zugdidi) is a Georgian politician who was Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia from July 4, 2012 to September 20, 2012. He had previously served as Head of Penitentiary Department of Ministry of Justice of Georgia (2005–2008) and Minister of Defense (August 27, 2009–July 4, 2012).

On September 20, 2012, amid protests against torture and rapes in Georgian prisons, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced Akhalaia had resigned from office.[1]

Early career[edit]

Akhalaia graduated from the Tbilisi State University with a degree in Law in 2003. From 2003 to 2004, he worked for the NGO Liberty Institute, known for his role in protests that led to the Rose Revolution in Georgia in November 2003.[2] From 2004 to 2005, Akhalaia served as deputy Public Defender (Ombudsman) under his fellow Liberty Institute activist Sozar Subari. In 2005, Akhalaia was moved to the post of Head of Penitentiary Department of Ministry of Justice of Georgia. In this capacity he led a struggle against the established system of "thieves in law" which ruled prisons in the post-Soviet country, but he was a frequent target of criticism by the opposition, some human rights groups and Public Defender Subari. In particular, he was accused of heavy-handed crackdown on Georgia's largest prison riot in 2006, in which 7 inmates died.[3]

Akhalaia has been seen as a close ally of Saakashvili and the influential Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. His brother, Data Akhalaia, headed Department for Constitutional Security at the Interior Ministry and his father, Roland Akhalaia, was a chief prosecutor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region in western Georgia and the current member of the Parliament of Georgia.[3]

Minister of Defense[edit]

Bacho Akhalaia gathers with the 31st Georgian Battalion aboard Camp Delaram II, Helmand Province, during his visit to the camp

In December 2008, in the aftermath of the August 2008 war with Russia, Akhalaia was appointed deputy Minister of Defense. The Georgian media ran stories about Akhalaia's alleged tensions with then-Minister Vasil Sikharulidze and Chief of Joint Staff Vladimer Chachibaia. On August 27, 2009, Akhalaia replaced Sikharulidze as Minister of Defense. President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili said "much stricter hand" was needed in the military and praised Akhalaia's past achievements. The Georgian opposition subjeted the decision to harsh criticism.[3][4]

WikiLeaks[edit]

According to the Wikileaks cables, the United States and NATO diplomats also expressed concerns over Akhalaia's appointment as Minister of Defense "noting his poor human rights record" during his service as the chief of penitentiary service. However, in the October 10, 2009 confidential cable sent to Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ahead of his visit to Georgia, the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi described Akhalaia as "the most active Defense Minister in terms of seeking advice" from the U.S. defense advisers and "then following through with it." He was further noted for being, unlike his predecessor, "unafraid to make decisions" and "genuinely interested in making reforms designed to make the GAF [the Georgian Armed Forces] better."[5]

Minister of Internal Affairs[edit]

On July 4, 2012, Akhalaia was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, succeeding on this position Ivane Merabishvili, who became Prime Minister in an important cabinet reshuffle months before the scheduled parliamentary election.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Vasil Sikharulidze
Minister of Defense of Georgia
2009–2012
Succeeded by
Dimitri Shashkin
Preceded by
Vano Merabishvili
Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia
2012
Succeeded by
Ekaterina Zguladze
Acting