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Ruling Party Backs Merabishvili
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Mar.'06 / 19:48

Influential parliamentarians from the ruling National Movement party convened a press conference on March 7 and condemned the opposition’s calls for resignation of Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, who is accused by the opposition of covering up officials with alleged links to the Girgvliani murder case.

“It is not understandable why the opposition demands Merabishvili’s resignation, when this person spares no efforts to solve all the high-profile crimes,” MP Givi Targamadze, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security, said.

“Why these attacks are directed against the country’s major ‘power structure’ [Interior Ministry]? Because our opponents are closely incorporated into the criminal world and with ‘thieves in law’ [criminal bosses]. And it was clearly demonstrated by their [opposition parliamentarians’] refusal to support law on the fight against ‘thieves in law,” MP Targamadze added.

MP Maia Nadiradze, leader of the parliamentary majority, said at a news conference that the ruling party’s position is “clear-cut support towards Vano Merabishvili.”

“The law enforcers had evidence against those officers from the Interior Ministry who were arrested on suspicion of murder [of Sandro Girgvliani]. If evidence appears that other officials were also engaged in this crime they will also be arrested. There are no untouchables,” MP Nadiradze added.

She also said that currently the Interior Ministry is “a kind of a foundation” for the state and condemned “attacks against Merabishvili.”

On March 7 opposition parliamentarians warned the Interior Minister to sack officials who allegedly are linked to Girgvliani murder case, including Data Akhalaia, chief of the Department of Constitutional Security and Vasil Sanodze, chief of the general inspection of the Interior Ministry, before evening of March 7, otherwise they threatened to launch a campaign for Merabishvili’s resignation. Opposition MPs also demanded the arrest of Data Akhalaia’s deputy - Oleg Melnikov. The opposition claims that Melnikov allegedly was among those men who brutally beat Sandro Girgvliani to death.

The Interior Minister sacked on March 7 his spokesman Guram Donadze, who was also supposed to have links with the crime. But Donadze’s “conflicting relations” with journalists was an official reason behind his dismissal.

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