Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze supported the government's decision to switch off the electricity supply to 23 of the country's provinces yesterday. As a result the Energy Distributing Company of Georgia, which is managed by the US company P.A. Consulting, cut off the electricity supply to the 23 provinces. The president said 'the population must learn to pay for electricity' and cutting off the electricity supply 'is the only way for the country to exist and develop.'
The Samegrelo region, which is in the west of Georgia and close to the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone, was among the non-paying regions. This region has the highest crime rate in the country along with the Svaneti region. Moreover, there are many refugees from Abkhazia living in this region, who are used to living for months at a time without electricity just as they are used to not receiving pensions and other state benefits. Mr Shevardnadze did not say how he expected these people to pay expensive electricity costs, when electricity is only very rarely supplied anyway and never for long.
As a Rosbalt correspondent was informed by the Georgian government, Mr Shevardnadze decided to support the move after a meeting between US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles and Georgian State Minister Avtandil Jorbenadze on August 26. The ambassador encouraged the Georgian government to support the measures taken by the American company. Some members of the government believe that Mr Shevardnadze should not have listened to the Americans in view of the upcoming elections and the fact that this latest energy crisis could reduce even further the number of government supporters in the regions. There do not seem to be many supporters as it is.