Story about Angry Pitskhelauri
Mari Otarashvili, Tserovani-Tbilisi
“Those, who work for Russians or Ossetians, who signs their documents and get salaries from them, cannot work with us,” representatives of Akhalgori district IDP administration – district governor Zurab Pitskhelauri and his deputy Valodia Shermadini - told us.
So, the legitimate government will cease funding for the organizations, which subordinated Akhalgori district administration and were located in the district. IDP district governor and his deputy, who have office in Tserovani settlement now, claim that the legitimate government does its best to keep Georgian residents in the Ksani valley; though the real situation is different.
Any person will feel irony, aggression and rudeness in the speech of those people [district governor and his deputy]. They dislike a journalist, who can travel to Akhalgori and report about local problems impartially; for example, the author of this article who publishes reportages from Akhalgori district both in the newspaper Resonance and on the www.humanrights.ge. Annoyed Zurab Pitskhelauri called her “traitor.”
-You said, houses were seized from several residents in Akhalgori. Who are those people and why their houses were seized?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: I do not know; I have no idea about it.
-How do not you know it?! We have learned the news from you…
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Really, I do not know. I thought you were in Akhalgori where both Ossetian and Georgian people welcome you. So you could learn the news from them.
-As far as I know, the Ossetian people, who abandoned houses during the ethno-conflict of 1990s and fled to Vladikavkaz, gained their houses back; several of them had their houses seized; others were extremely scared and sold houses at a low price.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Can you name at least one Ossetian person [who lost house in the 1990s]?
-For example, Anatoly Margiev…
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Well… they visited every family and warned them to sign documents according to which they had to abandon their houses; do not know it?! You are speaking only about two houses.
-As far as I know, house was seized from one of your relatives too because it belonged to an ethnic Ossetian who left district in the 1990s.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Which of my relatives?
-I do not know details. You can tell us…
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Why should I tell you? If you want to know, you should find out. I cannot visit the editorial office of your “Resonance.”
-Why are you speaking so rudely with me?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: No, I am speaking politely.
-I have learned that you have ceased funding for all organizations that are located in the district. I know that you have met employees of the library and told them: “unless you move to Tserovani, you will not get salaries.” Is it true?
-Who told you that?
-One of the librarians.
-It makes no difference. I am asking you a question and you should answer me.
-I think it is not true. I wonder, do you think Akhalgori district is occupied?
-Yes, I think it is occupied.
-Then write it in your newspaper, why do not write it?! Then, I will write about your position.
-You can write whatever you want in any newspaper. But now, please answer my questions because we have appointed this interview for a long time. Is not it true?
-First tell me: do you think Akhalgori is occupied?
-I have already answered your question.
-You do not think it is occupied, do you?
-I have already told you!
-I want you to write it in the newspaper. And generally, which country is your homeland?
-I am asking you questions and you should answer them. I will not answer your questions because you already know them.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: I cannot see that Georgia is your homeland.
-Do not you think that you are asking me funny questions?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Well, let us return to your questions. Who informed you about the library?
-I cannot tell you the name.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: You should tell me because I should know who did not receive the salary.
-And should you learn it from journalists? If you share some information with a journalist as an anonymous person, the journalist will not be able to publish your name; so I cannot tell the names of other people too.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Of course. You have written something about me though you should not have done it. So, you can publish the names too. You wrote, I offered some residents of Akhalgori district to spy for us. You should not publish everything what stupid people say.
-Please, mind your expressions.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: You should know that similar things must not be published. You do not care that after that, my house might be burnt in Akhalgori.
-You say that your house will be burnt in Akhalgori?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: they could have burnt it.
-Why should they have burnt it?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Because, you wrote that Zura ordered certain people to spy. Can you understand what you are doing?! Do you think you are an investigator, or a cute person?! You are not aware what you are writing.
-Mind your expressions!
Zurab Pitskhelauri: It is you, who should mind her writing.
-So, you have invited me here to listen to your lecture instead giving interview?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: I have invited you here to ask: was it correct of you to write those things about me?
-By the way, the person, whom you ordered to spy, has audio-recording of your speech and can prove that.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Who has?! Stop getting on my nerves. Let us assume that I have offered him to spy; if I am a citizen of my country, I will do everything for it. But you are writing that I am offering somebody to spy.
-I asked you to comment on that information but you refused.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Please, show me the stupid person whom I offered to spy. What kind of audio-recording he has! You are apparently speaking about Tamila Mearkishvili, whom I have not seen for 18 months and have not talked with her on the phone either. You even cannot understand how sorry I am for Tamila; otherwise I could have dismissed her long ago. How can I speak with her, since she does not recognize the Akhalgori district administration?!
-As far as I know, she does not recognize the de-facto administration either…
Zurab Pitskhelauri: No, she does. You should not teach me what she recognizes and what does not…
-If you want to speak about that particular person, then please tell me - do you think it is correct to dismiss her from job without warning her about it?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: If that person thinks I am her employer, she should call me at least once per month, or visit our office and ask: “I am doing it and want to hear your opinion about it…”
-Did she never meet you?
Valodia Shermadini: According to the court judgment, she is entitled to visit the office and cooperate with the administration.
-And cannot she have information about her dismissal?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: How could I inform her? She neither comes to our office, nor answers our phone calls.
Valodoa Shermadini: The person, who is responsible to call her, called her several times but she did not answer her phone calls. What else can we do?! After the war, we offered Tamila to continue her activities and do whatever she could do.
-So, if you had opened a youth palace in Tserovani settlement, she would have to continue working in Akhalgori too?
Valodia Shermadini: Yes we agreed with her about it. However, the youth palace was to be registered here in Tserovani. I told her, she could sue us and continue her activities in the district too; in similar situation, we could pay salary to her… I suggested her to continue suing us simultaneously. However, she said she does not recognize our administration – the district governor appoints the director of the youth palace; though she does not recognize the district governor! Tamila dislikes both the governor and deputy governor. Everything must be done according to estimated rules and orders.
-Does that person have right to know about her dismissal?
Valodia Shermadini: This organization was impossible to get registered in Akhalgori. Because, according to the law, it cannot happen in the occupied territory… We established almost equal organization here… That person does not recognize the district governor and the district administration, as well as the Tserovani IDP Settlement. The only reason for the controversy between Mearkishvili and the district authority is money compensation. We told her, we had transferred two compensation sums to her account (20 000 USD) and urged her to take the money during two months. They did not accept the money claiming they deserved three compensation sums. This is the only reason for our controversy. She could not get three compensations because of her protest. You can check how long the money was on their account. Because of their family, we lost many compensation sums  because the compensation sums allocated on December 31 were not withdrawn from the bank until March 15.
-In short, please tell me – have you ceased funding for the budget-funded organizations, which are located in Akhalgori district?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Those, who work for them, cannot work with us too.
-What do you mean by “work for them?”
Valodia Shermadini: Those, who sign documents of Russian and Ossetian employers and get salaries from them, will never work with us. I mean those organizations that are within our municipality: clubs and libraries, kindergartens… after the kindergarten was opened here, we offered every employee to move here from Akhalgori but they refused; so we could not force them to move.
-When did you make similar decision and why?! Those people have been getting salaries from the de-facto budget for a long time and why did you recall about it only now?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: I did not know that they received salaries from them too.
-And is it bad if people will stay there and continue working? Should all Georgian organizations stop working there because they get salaries from the de-facto budget?
Zurab Pirtskhelauri: Were you there on May 9?
-No, I was not there on that day.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: They selected participants of the concert according to ethnic background – Georgians were not allowed to sing at the concert – did not you know about it? They have told you about it, but you did not write it.
-How could they tell me when I was not in Akhalgori on May 9?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: No, you were there. I can name the person who complained about the problem with you but you did not write.
-I was not there for sure. You can check the information at all three checkpoints where all passengers get registered.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Do not you know the local security officers?
-No, I know only militiamen.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: but the security officers know you.
-It is not strange at all.
Valodia Shermadini: Georgian language and Georgian speech is prohibited in local schools; though there is no official order about it. You know that everything Georgian is banned in the district.
-Mr. Valodia, how are you saying that?! I know that you often visit the district and know the local situation better than others do. You should know at least from local school directors that it is not true. By the way, you have never faced any problems when traveling to the district though you represent the legitimate authority; have you?
Valodia Shermadini: No problems??
Zurab Pitskhelauri: You are well trained! You are asking good questions! You wanted Zura not to be able to visit the district, did you?
-How can you say that?! Not at all! On the contrary, I will be very glad if you regularly visit the district.
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Everything happened in the contrary.
Valodia Shermadini: I should get form 9 to get there; how can I get that document? Am I Russian citizen? They issue the form 9 instead lost documents and it is a temporary one.
-If you want to travel to the district without obstacles, if you want Georgian people to stay there, can that paper matter much for you?
Valodia Shermadini: It is not a simple paper. It is matter of dignity and self-respect.
-Is not it matter of dignity for you that all Georgian organizations are getting closed in the district?
Zurab Pitskhelauri: Are not they already closed?! Everything was banned there.
-Do not you agree that one of the reasons of this problem is the ceased salaries for the people, who stayed there?
Valodia Shermadini: Those organizations will be closed because Georgian people will not work for them.
-Why do not Georgian people stay there? Because you have made them to move to Tserovani; have not you?
Valodia Shermadini: You say there had better conditions to live in the district?! You mean that the district is not occupied?! Not everybody has moved to Tserovani; almost every doctor remained there and still works in the district.
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