Woman appointed head of Georgian police

Woman appointed head of Georgian police
Author: Georgi Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi, exclusively to VK


At the height of the scandal surrounding the publication of the shocking video of torture in Tbilisi jails, President Saakashvili described it as a "error" of teh system and said the following remarkable phrase: "There is a psychological war for the hearts and minds of the people." The opposition and all the opponents of the government actively (and rightly) use the terrible facts to defeat the ruling party in the upcoming parliamentary elections on October 1, an this is out of political or moral questions – having power, above all, means taking full responsibility. But the president responds actively, constantly trying to take the initiative. In some cases, he succeeds. For example, knowing that the horrific video of torture and rape of prisoners objectively demonized government and security forces, he decided to rebrand the Ministry of the Interior, nominating 34-year-old Ekaterina Zguladze for the post of the Minister.


Zguladze had been Deputy Minister for nearly seven years: in 2005, she received a phone call and was told that Minister, of Interior, Vano Merabishvili, wanted to talk to her. "What have I done wrong?" - 27-year-old Eka thought. She did not meet with the minister, considering the invitation misunderstanding. However, the next day a policeman came to her and said that the minister "was very insistent." Vano Merabishvili offered her (she was an employee of a nongovernmental agency who had never worked in government organizations) the post of Deputy Minister. This is not surprising, given the style of the "team of reformers": they recruited staff from the social groups not related to former elites of post-Soviet Georgia.


Zguladze studied in the U.S., then worked as a translator and quickly rose through the ranks in the private sector, but she had nothing to do with the police. However, President Saakashvili and his "right hand", Interior Minister Merabishvili, focused rather on creativity and sensitivity to the reforms than the experience and service record. All the more so before the Ministry had not appointed women to senior positions.


It turned out that Eka Zguladze found her ideal position. She not only contributed to the successful reform of the Interior Ministry, especially concerning patrol forces replacing the traffic police, but also managed to become a "bridge" to communicate with the public. As early as in 2005-2007, it became clear that the opposition would not be able to fully "demonize" the Interior Ministry, largely due to the popularity of Ekaterina Zguladze.


Despite the apparent delicacy, several times Eka showed utmost rigidity – for example, in May 2009, when the opposition attempted to break into the city department of the MIA. This attempt was foiled by "special forces", directly led by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, who was in the building.


Last year, Catherine Zguladze got married with a French documentarian Raphaël Glucksmann. Raphael is the son of the famous philosopher Andre Glucksmann. She has a son from her first marriage to showman Gega Palavandishvili, and she brought her son to her new family.


In her first statement against the building of Interior Ministry, the Interior Minister rigidly said that the Georgian police would do everything to stabilize the situation and create normal conditions on the eve of the parliamentary elections on October 1. According to observers, appointing Ekaterina Zguladze to the post of Interior Minister, President Saakashvili further strengthened the position of Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili. Former Minister, Bacho Akhalaia, in this sense was much more independent figure, and he was connected directly to the president; Eka Zguladze, in turn, remembers and will certainly take into account the man due to whom, above all, her dizzying career in the government has begun.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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