Following recent arrests of former senior government officials, among them Nika Gvaramia, who is now director of Rustavi 2 television station, secretary general of United National Movement (UNM), Vano Merabishvili, said that the party had to switch to “different kind of working mode”.
“Arrest of Gvaramia, as well as some other officials is unheard of fact,” Merabishvili said on Thursday noon. “I do not remember that a general director of an independent media outlet was arrested anywhere else, even in Russia.”
Former energy and finance minister Alexander Khetaguri; Nika Gvaramia, who is now director general of Rustavi 2 TV since mid-November and was a government member till late 2009, as well as former deputy economy minister Kakha Damenia, now a partner at a business consultancy firm GDC Solutions, were arrested on December 19 over charges related to alleged corruption.
UNM lawmakers have temporarily suspended parliamentary activities; they staged a walkout from the Parliament chamber on Wednesday and they were not present in the Parliament in Kutaisi on Thursday, where the legislative body is discussing draft of the 2013 state budget.
On Thursday UNM lawmakers and their supporters rallied outside Tbilisi police headquarters where Gvaramia has been placed after detention. Protesters were holding banners reading “Stop destroying our homeland”, “Stop pressure on media” and “Freedom to illegal detainees”. Some of the senior UNM lawmakers, including Davit Bakradze and Giorgi Gabashvili, were addressing participants of the rally, condemning Gvaramia’s arrest as a pressure on Rustavi 2 television station.
Finance Minister, Nodar Khaduri, said that detention of Gvaramia had nothing to do with Rustavi 2 television station as the probe by the investigations service of the Finance Ministry was into the case which was not in any way related to the television station.
UNM secretary general and ex-PM Vano Merabishvili said on December 20, that PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government “is in hysteria” and trying “to take control over everything that is not now under their control”.
Earlier on December 20 President Saakashvili was in Rustavi where he met with UNM members of local City Council (Sakrebulo); he held similar meetings in Kutaisi and Kobuleti Sakrebulos on December 19.
“We will achieve restoring rule of law and order in Georgia,” said Saakashvili, who again claimed that the new government in Georgia aimed at destroying state institutions, built under his and UNM leadership over the past nine years.
Saakashvili said that some of “the major corrupt officials” from the period of Eduard Shevardnadze’s presidency now returned back into government.
“These people are back now and these people have a very concrete plan – amassing personal wealth and dismantling state institutions,” he said.
“Even next 50 years won’t be enough for the Prime Minister to level to the ground what we have built,” Saakashvili said.