Vano Merabishvili, secretary general of United National Movement (UNM) party, said that recent allegations involving abuse of power during his tenure as interior minister were so “unserious” and “ambiguous” that he would not even comment on them.
“This allegation is so unserious that I do not even want to talk about it. It’s very ambiguous allegation,” Merabishvili said in an interview with Rustavi 2 TV on November 25.
Asked whether he was expecting to be arrested, Merabishvili responded that judging from recent developments, “I do not rule out anything.”
“I think neither the new government… nor Georgia’s image will benefit from carrying out political repressions against main political opponents – in this case I am not speaking about personally myself, but generally,” Merabishvili said, adding that political retribution should not take place “no matter how large public demand might be.”
“We [the previous government] have not carried out legal proceedings against any of the political opponent,” he said.
He stressed for couple of times that he was not saying it for the purpose of “self-defense”.
“I am ready to stand accountable and to answer all the questions, which society or justice may be interested in,” he said.
Merabishvili was asked about the case involving alleged illegal surveillance of political opponents by the previous authorities in which former deputy interior minister and ten interior ministry officials were arrested. Among the targets of this illegal surveillance through unauthorized access to computer networks ahead of the October 1 parliamentary elections, according to prosecutor’s office, were Georgian Dream coalition leaders.
Responding to this question, Merabishvili said the fact “in itself that victims in all of these cases are either Georgian Dream or Bidzina Ivanishvili or [his] Cartu Bank” was suggesting that criminal proceedings against former interior ministry officials into this case were politically motivated.
“So I think that cases of this type, no matter what the public demand might be, will eventually harm not only government’s image, but will also trigger doubts in the public towards objectivity of law enforcement agencies and courts,” Merabishvili said.
Asked whether he thought some of the high-profile cases, among them death of PM Zurab Zhvania and Sandro Girgvliani, should be re-investigated, Merabishvili responded: “In all of these cases, I think and according to my information, everything has been clarified and all the conclusions have been tabled.”
“When we were in power, convincingness that these cases were handled fairly was questioned by a certain part of the society; now, I think, time has come for the new government to re-investigate these cases and if it deems necessary to make public materials of these cases. I think that in these cases, as well as in others, we have nothing to hide and at least now the society will see that doubts they have about these cases are groundless,” Merabishvili said.
He also said that UNM’s “biggest mistake” that contributed to the formerly ruling party’s defeat in the October 1 parliamentary election “was that we did not engage in dialogue and debates on every issue which the society was interested in.”
Merabishvili said that UNM’s goal was “renewal” and “strengthening”; he said that UNM would be competing in all the elections whether MP by-elections or presidential elections next year. He said that UNM would be pushing for making all the key local government posts in provinces directly elected. Merabishvili also said that UNM would engage in dialogue with the society to select UNM’s presidential candidate for next year’s election.