US Educated Officer Promoted to Head Georgian General Staff

TBILISI (Combined Sources)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told a government meeting on Wednesday that he had promoted deputy chief of the General Staff Vakhtang Kapanadze to head the General Staff.

Kapanadze’s predecessor–Givi Iukuridze–"has done his best," Saakashvili said. "He graduated from the Frunze Academy in Russia. However–we are creating a new army which must meet NATO’s standards and so appointing US-educated people to key positions in the General Staff," he said.

Mamuka Nikolaishvili and David Nairashvili have been appointed deputy chiefs of the General Staff–Saakashvili said.

President Saakashvili also said that Georgia is to establish a reserve army comprised of part-time soldiers.

"These forces will comprise all Georgian citizens who are physically fit to perform these duties," Saakashvili told a Cabinet session held in Batumi on Wednesday.

Georgia–whose relations with neighbor Russia have deteriorated recently over the breakaway region of South Ossetia–already has a conscription army like in Russia. But it was unclear as to whether

Saakashvili’s plans include mandatory terms of service in the new reserve army for the wider population or for those who have already completed their initial conscription service in the regular army.

Georgia does not want a war and is not preparing for it–but "the need to protect the country is relevant today and will be relevant in a decade or a century," he said.

"As a state we are ready to provide all people with uniforms and weapons–should it prove necessary. But they will be kept at police stations. Every reservist will undergo training once or twice a year in order to put on a uniform and study the mobilization plan," the president said.

Reservists will be trained to deal "with both defense issues and emergency situations that might take place in the country," Saakashvili said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry describes Georgian leaders’ statemen’s saying Tbilisi is on the verge of war with Russia as irresponsible.

The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday–"Tbilisi’s recent statemen’s contain militarist rhetoric. But their latest statemen’s are lack a sense of proportion and irresponsibility at any level–personal or state one."

"The absurdity of these statemen’s is obvious. Recently the entire world has been promised to expose bodies of dead Cossacks. But these confirmations have become groundless," the statement says.

"Due to the failure of the military adventure in South Ossetia Georgia’s social and economic problems have become more evident. It would be necessary to concentrate efforts on the solution to this problem and not to aim them at searching for a ‘non-existing external enemy’ or upsetting the work of the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi," the ministry stressed.

Moscow "is seeking to help the Georgian people improve normal life." The Foreign Ministry urges Georgia "to react on constructive initiatives–which have been recently presented to Georgia’s leadership in order to improve relations."There is no reaction on these initiatives. Any talks on helping hand of friendship cannot replace it," the statement says.

In related news–the Interior Department deputy chief in Tskhinvali–Nodar Dzagoyev–was killed on Wednesday–and authorities have opened an investigation to discover if foul play was behind the death.

"Investigators are looking into all possible murder scenarios–including a terrorist act," said Robert Guliyev–Interior Minister of the unrecognized South Ossetian republic.

The minister also told Interfax that two Tskhinvali residents were detained and heavily beaten in the Georgian village of Kekhli last night.

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