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Georgia amnesties political prisoners, including “Russian spies”

January 14, 2013, 11:02 UTC+3

The amnesty was announced against the will of the head of state and leader of the United National Movement Mikhail Saakashvili

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Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia David Usupashvili on Saturday signed an act on large-scale amnesty. On Sunday, 190 prisoners, which were recognised by the Georgian Parliament as “political” were released, including those who in times of absolute power of President Saakashvili and his right hand – Interior Minister Merabishvili - were condemned as “Russian spies.”

In early December 2012, the country’s parliament, the majority in which is held by the Georgian Dream coalition that supports Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, approved the list of political prisoners and political refugees, which included 215 people, the Novye Izvestia daily writes. Of them, 190 are in jail and 25 – abroad. Overall, up to 3000 prisoners will be released within the framework of the large-scale amnesty and prison terms will be cut for thousands more.

The amnesty was announced against the will of the head of state and leader of the United National Movement Mikhail Saakashvili, stresses the newspaper. The parliament passed the amnesty law on December 21 last year. However, the Georgian president vetoed it. However, later the country’s supreme legislative body overturned the presidential veto and approved the law. Saakashvili did not sign it. “These people are assuming responsibility for those grave consequences that may be caused by the release of a very large number of criminals,” he said on the eve of the release of political prisoners. “In the current situation, the mass release of this number of prisoners is totally unacceptable, as well as is unacceptable the release of Russian spies, rebels and those who committed violent crimes.” Amnestied were, in particular, 11 people convicted in Batumi in October 2010 for liaising with Russian intelligence. They are citizens of Georgia and Russia. Vakhtang Maisaia – a former military expert who was arrested in May 2009 also for espionage in favour of Russia has been released as well.

The fact is scandalous in itself: in Georgia, which was announced by the West “a beacon of democracy” in the post-Soviet space in which exemplary liberal reforms were carried out for 9 years under the strict supervision of American curators, there suddenly appeared political prisoners, and in such large numbers, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper writes. Here it is just right to conduct an internal investigation: by which considerations were guided numerous “inspectors” from the US State Department and international NGOs who had cheerfully reported that Georgia was firmly on the path toward democracy? – asks the newspaper. It makes one wonder – if there are, terrible to say, signs of corruption here?


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