Amid ongoing prison scandal and eleven days before the parliamentary elections, President Saakashvili has called not to use this “appalling” case of prison abuse “for various political games.”
Speaking at a ceremony of handing over apartments to a group of Georgian army officers in Tbilisi suburb on September 20, Saakashvili said that this case of prison abuse should not become a reason for turning Georgia back into the past. The ruling party, for which release of prison abuse videos was a serious damage ahead of the elections, frequently attacks its major rival in the upcoming polls, Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition, by claiming that if he comes into power it will lead to derailing Georgia from its reform path and “throwing the country back into the past.”
“Of course what has happened [referring to prison abuse] goes beyond any human principles and cannot be but a source of irritation and indignation,” Saakashvili said in remarks few hours before interior minister Bacho Akhalaia had to resign amid protesters over prison abuse. “I have been so angry and outraged very rarely in my life, probably even never.”
He also said that what had happened in the Gldani prison No.8 overshadowed all the achievements made in recent years.
“But I call on everyone not to use human fate… for various political games,” Saakashvili said.
“We should not throw out the baby with the bathwater – that’s the main lesson; politicians come and go; disgusting things may also happen in other countries, which are more developed [than Georgia], but it should be the society’s main instinct to make the country move forward and not to let it return back into dark past,” he said and added that what had happened in the prison No.8 was “small part” of that past which was still remaining in Georgia.
“I do not want this small fragment, which was like a cancer in our body, to destroy the state. The cancer needs to be treated radically and we have already done it and will keep on doing it,” Saakashvili said.
The authorities claim that of those eleven prison officials, who have been arrested in inmates’ abuse case, three were acting on orders from “third party” – hinting on Georgian Dream opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili; the authorities have claimed that those three officials were beating inmates and filming it in exchange of significant monetary compensation in order to then use these videos as a compromising material against the government ahead of the elections. The authorities said that inhuman treatment of inmates by other arrested former prison officials was a result of “systematic problem” in the penitentiary and was not related to the plot by “third party.”
“I want to tell those who were financing it [alleged plot to obtain compromising materials] – how can everything be traded for elections? How can everything be used for gaining political dividends?” Saakashvili said.
He also said that it was part of a broader plot, which he did not specify, but added that the government would share information about it to the public.
“We are cooperating internationally with our partners and we have lots of information – not pleasant one; but the good thing is that we possess this information, we will share it with public and we will eradicate this [plot],” Saakashvili said.
“I share outrage of every person, who are appalled with what we have seen, but let’s hold on a minute and think what do we want to come next – collapse of all the [achievements] done up to now or moving forward?” he said.