Irakli Okruashvili’s allegations are false, President Saakashvili said on September 29 in a long expected response to a series of serious accusations voiced by his former closest ally.
He said Okruashvili’s arrest was part of the authorities’ anti-corruption drive and had nothing to do with politics.
“There are no untouchables,” he said. “The rule of law and putting everyone where they deserve to be, if they violate the law – this is my governance style; our governance style.”
“Georgia, unlike many other places, enjoys freedom of press; everyone can say what ever they want and as much as they want; but no one is able to blackmail the people, who have clear consciences.”
Saakashvili’s remarks reflected earlier comments made by key figures from his ruling National Movement party.
Giga Bokeria, an influential lawmaker from the ruling party, said by levelling stunning, but groundless accusations, Okruashvili was trying “to create some kind of immunity and untouchable status.”
Later on the same day, President Saakashvili headed to western Georgia where he attended the opening of a new road linking Georgian-controlled areas in breakaway Abkhazia with Georgia proper.
Although he didn't mention Okruashvili by name in his speech at the road opening ceremony, Saakashvili alluded to the events surrounding the arrest.
“Our detractors know very well that it is absolutely impossible to defeat Georgia when it is united,” Saakashvili said. “But they also know very well that we always have a certain number of traitors as well.”
He said the enemies of Georgia wanted to weaken the Georgian state, so as to facilitate traitors.
“It will never happen,” Saakashvili said. “We want to tell both our friends and enemies: this is a different Georgia, this is a different nation with a different spiritual strength.”
He said that civil war and internal division in the early 90s had led to the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He said “traitors and their ambitions” had caused disaster for the country.