The Georgian government and opposition politicians have welcomed the release of doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was detained for “illegally crossing the border” in Russia-occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, from a seven-week custody.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili congratulated Vazha Gaprindashvili’s family, his friends and entire Georgia on the doctor’s release. “Our hope for the future has become stronger,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani also welcomed Vazha Gaprindashvili’s release from Tskhinvali custody.
“The tireless efforts exerted by the Georgian Government reaped successful results. Today the Georgian Doctor, Vazha Gaprindashvili, is free, ready to celebrate and greet the New Year among his friends and family,” Zalkaliani wrote on his Facebook page.
Minister Zalkaliani thanked the international community, partner countries and international organizations that “paid close attention, displaying unprecedented firmness over the issue of freeing the illegally detained doctor.” Zalkaliani expressed hope that “with similar tireless efforts and the support of the international community, we will be able to diplomatically resolve all humanitarian problems, faced by the population negatively affected by the conflict.”
Georgian Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said that “the entire government was intensively involved” in the process of releasing the Georgian doctor. She thanked “all those people, states, friends, organizations that were involved in the process of achieving Gaprindashvili’s release.”
Irakli Chikovani, the Georgian Prime Minister’s advisor, noted that Gaprindashvili’s release “is the result of coordinated work” by international institutions and Georgian government agencies.
“While such mobilized and coordinated work was underway to achieve Gaprindashvili’s release, there were some political forces or political figures, trying to capitalize on the issue, as if the government was doing nothing. This is an incorrect approach,” he noted.
In a statement released on December 28, the United National Movement, former ruling party, described Vazha Gaprindashvili as “a symbol of Georgia’s victory and unity.”
“And his release is the result of a struggle by his family, colleagues, Georgian citizens, entire Georgia and pressure by our partner states,” the statement reads.
MP Davit Bakradze of European Georgia party said that Vazha Gaprindashvili “shows us an example of civic heroism.” “He defeated fear, [Russian] occupation, prison and proved that dignity and patriotism will always win a victory,” Bakradze said, adding that “the support of the entire country has yielded the today’s result.”
MP Irma Inashvili of the Alliance of Patriots party said that her party has contributed to Gaprindashvili’s release. She said that she had information about the planned release yesterday, when the government knew nothing about it.
Gaprindashvili also commented briefly after release and thanked everyone for support. He said that he feels well and rejected any pressure from Tskhinvali, promising to unveil more details later.