Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, said “days of Saakashvili’s criminal regime are numbered” and called for restraint in order not to give the authorities pretext for calling off the October 1 parliamentary elections.
Speaking at a huge campaign rally in Samegrelo region’s main town of Zugdidi, close to the breakaway Abkhazia’s administrative border, Ivanishvili focused on recent prison abuse scandal and said that it showed “the face of Saakashvili’s regime.”
“I address our youth, which was appalled [by prison abuse videos], I address our insulted people… I call on you for calmness, quietness, but not for forgetting this crime,” Ivanishvili said.
“As a result of protests by our students two ministers resigned, including Bacho Akhalaia [the former interior minister]. There is a crack in Akhalaia’s clan and there is a crack in Saakashvili’s regime too. But it is not enough and our youth knows it well and therefore they demand Bacho Akhalaia to face the justice.”
Groups of protesters were gathering on Saturday at various locations in Tbilisi to demand bringing former interior minister Bacho Akhalaia to justice.
It was reported earlier on September 22, that before protesters starting gathering, the police detained one of the organizers of these rallies Dachi Tsaguria; police also detained another person with Tsaguria and charged both of them with disobeying police orders. Both of them were sentenced to ten days in prison. A day earlier four protesters were arrested and sentenced to twenty and forty days in prison for disobeying police orders.
“The day of their responsibility has approached. The 1st of October will be the day of real responsibility. They are afraid of this day, because after October 1 they will be held responsible with the fullest extent of the law. Since they are afraid of this day as of fire, they are trying to gain benefit from public outrage and to make people themselves thwart the elections,” Ivanishvili said.
“They [the authorities] want to make people do some illegal things and to then announce under some pretext that holding of elections is impossible,” he added.
“So let’s be wise and show restraint until the elections and then we will make them accountable with the force of the law,” Ivanishvili said.
“Do you think that they have not committed even more terrible crimes other than that [involving prison abuse]? What we have seen is only a small part of their numerous, gravest crimes,” he said. “They have been building this system for years deliberately, because only aggression and violence could have brought huge power and wellbeing to them. What we saw during these recent days is a crime against mankind.”
He said that “the entire cruelty of Saakashvili’s regime is felt here, in Zugdidi.” Referring to a prison No.4 in Zugdidi, Ivanishvili said that it was used by the authorities to terrorize locals who “dare to oppose Saakashvili‘s regime and one family reigning here – the Akhalaia family”. Bacho Akhalaia’s father, Roland Akhalaia, who was chief prosecutor of Samegrelo region, is the ruling party’s majoritarian MP candidate in Zugdidi single-mandate constituency in western Georgia. Akhalaia’s brother, Data, is deputy defense minister since July. Before that Data Akhalaia led the Department of Constitutional Security (DCS) at the Interior Ministry.
Irakli Alasania, who is Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP candidate in Zugdidi, told the rally that “everyone suspected of being behind” of prison abuse case “from the head of the state to a low level official should face criminal responsibility.”
“The main weapon, which the society now holds, is a ballot paper, which we will use on October 1 and put an end to this criminal regime; but before that we should show restraint,” Alasania told the rally.
At the same rally Ivanishvili said: “At least now the democratic West will see at last what Saakashvili represents. At least now [the West] will see that an executioner rules this country.”
“We should realize that each of his [Saakashvili’s] supporter, each person, who still tries to find some excuse for Saakashvili, will be an accomplice in this cruelest crime. Those, who will even slightly justify acts of these executioners, will themselves be executioners,” Ivanishvili said.
Meanwhile on September 22 President Saakashvili was in Batumi at a ceremony of opening technological university, where he reiterated remarks made a day earlier, claiming that the release of video footage showing torture of inmates just before the elections was part of a plot to derail Georgia from its development course with the use of upcoming elections.