Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was released from Russian-occupied Tskhinvali prison earlier today, held his first press-briefing in Tbilisi at 20:00 of December 28, together with her wife Tamila Lapanashvili. The two responded to journalists’ questions in the Independence Hall of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia.
Gaprindashvili, who was detained by Moscow-backed Tskhinvali authorities for “illegal state border crossing” since mid-November, once again thanked everyone for their support towards him, noting that “entire Georgia contributed” to the cause of his release.
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Explaining the reason of passing into occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, doctor Gaprindashvili said he intended to visit his patient there, adding that he cannot name the patient due to safety reasons. Gaprindashvili also said that upon his detention, he told so called Russian border guards that he planned to visit a church in monastery village, so that to avoid revealing the identity of the patient.
Gaprindashvili said the reason of his detention and sentencing in occupied Tskhinvali was not crossing the line of occupation but rather his insistence on the fact that he did not leave the Georgian territory. “Since the first day [of my detention], I kept telling Russian border guards as well as representatives of Tskhinvali bodies that I have not left the territory of Georgia and that I am presently on Russian occupied Georgian soil,” Gaprindashvili told journalists.
Georgian doctor also spoke of his experience while being in detention. He noted that attitude expressed towards him in Tskhinvali “was normal” and that he has not experienced “neither any particular pressure, nor negative attitude towards him, or aggression, rather opposite,” he added.
Vazha Gaprindashvili noted that he was not aware of the decision about his release in advance. Georgian doctor said he was offered to write letter with pardoning request yesterday, noting that he warned offerers he still dismisses charges of “illegal state border crossing.” Following the reply, Gaprindashvili said, he was offered a compromise to write a letter, but without admitting charges against him.
“I cannot tell you why [they] decided to pardon me unexpectedly… Yesterday, we wrote a letter and I did not know how it would go… [Today,] approximately at 9.20 AM, [prison] guard came, telling me the prison head was calling me and that I was free,” Gaprindashvili noted.
Gaprindashvili also thanked Ossetian people. Georgian doctor noted that he refused to take meals prepared by Tskhinvali prison administration and that he was sent food by locals. “I would like to once again thank the Ossetian population who were inconvenienced because of me and I would like to apologize them that they were troubled because of me,” Gaprindashvili noted.
The wife of doctor Gaprindashvili, Tamila Lapanashvili briefly talked to journalists as well. Lapanashvili also noted that she see everyone’s contribution in doctor’s release and that she fails to personally name everyone involved in the process.
Lapanashvili stressed that “our state and state agencies, security [service], Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ministry of Foreign Affairs… our international partners, our friends abroad, our civil society, all of you… our notable singers, scientists, writers… [many people were involved in the process of Gaprindashvili’s release]… within the borders of [Georgia] or abroad.”
Lapanashvili also thanked the author of the pardoning act, hailing it as “very good” and “important.”
“Nowhere in [the act does doctor Gaprindashvili] admits charges. Rather opposite, it says that this person [Vazha Gaprindashvili] does not admit charges against him. He says that [Georgia’s] border [with Russia] runs across the Psou River and Roki Tunnel. I would like to personally thank pardoner of [doctor Gaprindashvili] very much,” Lapanashvili noted, adding that the Gaprindashvili family will discuss further details with media in the future.