Georgian ministers to get military training

Georgian ministers and department heads, who have not served in the army, will be obligated to attend military training sessions in late May, Rustavi-2, a Georgian television company reported.

"Every minister must take a submachine gun in his hands, wear a military uniform and run 10 kilometers - or less if he cannot," Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told journalists. "The important thing is that all of them take part in military training."

Rustavi-2 reported that Mr. Saakashvili served in the frontier troops in Ukraine and that Georgy Baramidze, the interior minister, served in the army for two years.

Anyone who refuses to participate in the 20-day military training will be relieved of their post, Rustavi-2 reported. No one has objected to the president's decisions. Most ministers said that they wanted to serve in the elite units of the Georgian army to understand the full-time service of soldiers and officers who are being trained according to Western standards.

Many ministers said they did not serve in the army because they studied abroad and that today they are ready to fulfill their duty.

There are also ministers who said that they did not serve in the army as a protest. In particular, Georgy Khaindrava, the state minister for settling conflicts, told journalists that he "did not serve on principle because it was the Soviet army."

"I always thought that the time would come when we would have our own army. Today, I will join the unit, where big physical loads are practiced, with pleasure," Mr. Khaindrava said.

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