Nika Gvaramia’s First Comments After Being Released From Prison

Late on June 22, following the announcement by President Salome Zurabishvili of the pardon granted to Nika Gvaramia, the Director of the opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi was released from prison. Speaking to journalists near the prison, Gvaramia gave his first remarks discussing his reaction to the pardon and outlining his future plans.

Gvaramia expressed surprise at his unexpected pardon and release from prison, saying he had not expected it until at least February or March next year. He noted that the President’s decision was not specifically about him, but was motivated by her commitment to her people. He said: “She did it for her country, which she is the president of, and I think it really adds to her dignity.”

Acknowledging the potential criticism stemming from past videos in which he used profanity to describe President Zurabishvili, Gvaramia expressed confidence that people would question her decision to pardon him. Reflecting on those videos, he candidly stated: “I don’t like myself in these videos. It is disgusting to treat a woman like that. I am sorry for that and I apologize to her for that”.

Gvaramia claimed that it would be a mistake for the President not to release Mikheil Saakashvili. He stressed that this issue goes beyond the question of whether Saakashvili’s sentence is just or unjust, as it is a matter of life and death. Gvaramia suggested that in such a scenario, if the president is unsure of what course of action to take, it is better to err on the side of life, than on the side of death. He stated: “She should release Mikheil Saakashvili. We should all understand that when there are at least 500,000 people in the country who believe that the main person associated with statehood is a hostage, there can be no peace in the country. Especially no depolarization”.

Speaking about his future plans, Gvaramia said that while he was serving his sentence, he had refrained from making any concrete decisions about what he would do after his release. He did, however, express his commitment to helping Mtavari TV overcome the financial challenges it is currently facing. Nevertheless, Gvaramia specifically mentioned that he would not be returning to his post as director of “Mtavari Arkhi” and that the TV company would be run by its acting director, Giorgi Gabunia.

He also warned against the idea that Georgia would automatically be granted candidate status now that he had been released, stressing that such a belief would be misguided. In this regard, he pointed to the large number of political prisoners who remain imprisoned and stressed that their release would only occur if the current system collapsed.

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


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