It wasn’t typical for Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to contemplate the candidate for the position of Interior Ministet for so long. It was necessary to find a new minister after the adoption of the Law on the National Security Agency (NSA) by the parliament. All the services which are responsible for national security, fighting corruption and terrorism, and investigating extremely serious crimes are now included in a new structure – the NSA; while the Interior Ministry is responsible for social security, i.e. for fighting street crime.
The Agency is headed by the former Interior Minister, Vakhtang Gomelauri, who is thought to be the closest supporter of the Premier. Gomelauri used to be one of heads of the personal bodyguard of the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. There is nothing to add.
However, who should be appointed to the position of the Interior Minister, i.e. the head of the police? In the last 12 years since the Rose Revolution, only politicians have headed the Interior Ministry. Mikheil Saakashvili appointed his closest supporters to the position, who had nothing in common with the police or even with jurisprudence. The most well-known of them is Vano Merabishvili, who was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment. Finally, after a week of thinking, the Premier decided that Giorgi Mgebrishvili should become the Minister. Previously, he worked as the Minister for Applying Punishment. The appointment of Mgebrishvili is a significant event, as he is not a politician, but a professional who knows the structure very well. Mgebrishvili started his career in the Interior Ministry. And he is respected there. This factor was crucial for the Premier’s choice. The authorities are really intending to depoliticize the Ministry, turning it into a common structure for protection of the social order and for fighting crime, including street crime. The famous (after Saakashvili’s reforms) 'patrol police' will be controlled by Giorgi Mgebrishvili. He says that he “is returning to his family” after taking various official positions, including t position of Governor of Kvemo Kartli (Borchali) where the majority of the population are Azerbaijanis.
Another interesting moment is that, just like Vakhtang Gomelauri, Giorgi Mgebrishvili doesn’t provoke aggression and criticism from the media or the powerful non-governmental sector of Georgia. He is thought to be “a calm and unbiased professional.” He manages to avoid statements and steps which could enable the opposition (i.e. supporters of the former president, Mikheil Saakashvili) to tie him to Bidzina Ivanishvili and the ruling coalition in a negative context. Nevertheless, the Premier shows that his team, including ministers of the force structures, is serious and planning for the long haul.