TBILISI, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he will no use the presidential security detail, including its vehicles, the presidential administration said on Thursday, following a row with the prime minister over appointments in the service.
Saakashvili has also given up his personal security guards, and was seen on Wednesday arriving at the capital Tbilisi's international airport behind the steering wheel of an electric-powered car with no security guards.
“Due to cheap manipulations on the orders of the prime minister, the president refuses to use the security service and intends to drive his personal transportation,” the president's office said in a statement.
“They [the Special State Security Service] can take away all the armored cars from the garage of the presidential administration,” the statement added.
In early February, the Georgian government passed a law on the State Security Service which empowers the prime minister to appoint its head, which used to be the privilege of the president.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, sacked the previous head of the security service and appointed his former personal security service head in his place.
There has been considerable antipathy between the two men ever since Ivanishvili won the elections in Georgia last year. Ivanishvili has called on Saakashvili to step down early as president, which he has refused to do.
Holding high office in Georgia has not always been without risk. Former President Eduard Shevardnadze survived at least two assassination attempts, including a car bombing, while Georgia's first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia died in mysterious circumstances after being ousted in the country's civil war shortly after independence from the USSR.