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Vano Merabishvili Released from Prison

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Former long-time and influential Minister of Interior of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, was released from prison on February 20.

Merabishvili, who served as the Prime Minister for few months before the United National Movement was defeated in the 2012 parliamentary elections, was arrested in May 2013 and charged with misspending and vote-buying; other set of criminal charges were filed against him later – all of them denied by Merabishvili as politically motivated. Merabishvili was found guilty and sentenced to prison terms in several separate trials in 2014. The Tbilisi City Court is currently deliberating on the case in connection with break up of anti-government protest rallies on November 7, 2007, in which Vano Merabishvili has been charged with exceeding official powers.

Merabishvili told journalists upon his release that he intends to return to “active politics.” “I am content that I did not do any compromise [with the Georgian Dream-led government],” he stressed.

Merabishvili thanked supporters, noting that throughout the years in jail he retained strength and hope for the future to “keep fighting in order to remove this regime [Georgian Dream-led government] during this year.”

“It is necessary to give way to the development in the country, to increase our people’s welfare to ensure that hopelessness disappears, and new opportunities are opened up to the youth,” he told reporters.

Merabishvili noted that “after overthrowing this government”, the prison doors will be opened for all political prisoners. “I declare that everyone jailed here is a political prisoner,” he added.

Merabishvili also addressed police officers, saying that together with friends, he will do his utmost to restore “police dignity” and return trust to it, as well as to improve social condition of police officers.

He expressed regret over the fact that his closest friends are in different parties today [referring to the United National Movement and the European Georgia]. Merabishvili said that after meeting with them and familiarizing himself with their opinions, he will decide which party to join for his future political activities.

In his remarks, Merabishvili hailed the opposition’s unity, emphasizing that “with this unity we will defeat the current regime.” “They may again bring charges against me, but they will not be able to break me. We all guarantee that we will win and not a single question will remain without answer,” he added.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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