In a second phone interview with the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV on May 22, ex-defense minister and leader of the Georgian Party called on the Georgian army “to stand beside the people” on May 25, when his party plans to, as he put it, “hit a final blow to the Saakashvili’s regime.”
In an earlier interview with Maestro TV also on Sunday, Okruashvili, who lives in exile in France, said that he would return back to Georgia on May 25 “to put an end to the Saakashvili’s regime.”
“From the moment, when I step on the Georgian territory, I will lose political asylum to which I was granted by the French authorities; hence I will lose the right to go back to France. I am deliberately doing it in order to cut my way back. I want it to be a message to those people who are neutral towards the developments and watching these developments on TV. I want to call on these people to come, for at least amusement, on May 25, when we will hit a final blow to this regime,” Okruashvili told Maestro TV via phone late on Sunday evening.
“Several days ago I called on the soldiers, officers, privates [of the Georgian army] that in few days – this is May 25 – we will be standing on the one side of the barricade and there will be Saakashvili’s gang on the other side,” he continued. “They [the army] should make a choice where they will be standing; they can’t be neutral in that situation and I want to request them to make a choice in favor of the Georgian people their choice will decide the fate of Georgia.”
“On May 25 I will be in Georgia together with my people. I will not talk about details. On May 25 we will manage to put an end to Saakashvili’s regime with minimal losses. If there is a great public support, the losses will be minimal. So, everybody should acknowledge the responsibility, which should be assumed before our country.”
“I am taking an extremely risky step to save our country. I have no ambitions for leadership; I have no ambitions, that we are leading these processes. I call on all people not to be indifferent. Go away from your TV sets and let’s end this regime once and forever,” Okruashvili said.
The Georgian Party announced on Sunday that it would launch a decisive struggle against President Saakashvili on May 25 at a rally on Avlabari Square – the presidential palace is located close to that square.
After that announcement the Georgian Party joined the rally outside the public broadcaster on the Kostava Street, which is led by the People’s Assembly in which a key figure is Nino Burjanadze, the ex-parliamentary speaker.
The two groups held talks on Sunday to agree on joint action plan; but the only decision, regarding the protests, announced after that meeting was that the rally would remain on its current venue – outside the public broadcaster. In her remarks with journalists Nino Burjanadze sounded skeptical about holding rally on the Avlabari Square.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry again reiterated on May 22, that the police would act according to the law and arrest Irakli Okruashvili if he returns back to Georgia.
Since 2007, when he went into opposition, Okruashvili lives in France, where he has received political asylum; in Georgia he was sentenced to 11-year prison term in absentia in March, 2008.
Okruashvili said that with his planned arrival in Georgia on May 25, Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili “will face a great test.”
“A myth about his [Merabishvili’s] omnipotence may be shattered in one day and I will do it, I promise,” Okruashvili said.