02 April 2020,   12:31
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Vano Merabishvili left the prison – former PM returns to politics

Vano Merabishvili – the first statements

Today, February, 20, former Minister of Internal Affairs left the so-called “Matrosov prison” after 7 years of imprisonment.

In the yard of “Matrosov’s prison”, Vano Merabishvili made his first political statements.
“I spent these years in a solitary confinement cell. I am satisfied that I did not make any compromise. I would like to thank my supporters gathered here or those who show support from the faraway. With their support and hope for the future, I have retained strength, energy, hope and belief to continue struggle to remove this regime this year. I guarantee that this government will be over in a year”, - said Vano Merabishvili.
Asked by journalists whether he plans to return to politics, Merabishvili said: “It is necessary to do this, we will definitely do it”.
Merabishvili also addressed police officers.
“I want to address the Georgian police officers and tell them that we will do our best together with our friends to restore the dignity of the police, restore confidence and improve their social situation”, - said former Interior Minister.
He also talked about current political situation.

“I am glad that the whole opposition is united and with this unity we will defeat the existing regime. I haven’t made any statements about specific parties so far, because I had been in isolation, I had been removed from the ongoing processes, and therefore, I can’t make a statement today either, because nothing has changed within 5 minutes after leaving the cell.

Unfortunately, my closest friends and comrades are in different parties. I will, of course, meet all of them, listen to them and then make decisions. I need some time to make conclusions, you will be informed about it. I guarantee that we will win and the country will move forward.

We all guarantee that we will win and every question will be answered. The country will move forward. I told you that I would engage in active politics to defeat this regime. I will definitely inform you of my exact plans”, - said Merabishvili.

Saakashvili - I am proud of his strength

Georgia’s third President Mikheil Saakashvili commented on the release of former Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili on the social network.
Saakashvili calls on everyone to reconcile.
“I am proud of his strength and bravery. I agree that Bidzina Ivanishvili will definitely be over. He will be over not because of our personal feelings, but because, as Vano said, our country needs progress and development.
I call for reconciliation. We must be oriented to the future and not to the past,” Saakashvili wrote.
Today, February, 20, the former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili left the so-called “Matrosov prison” after 7 years of imprisonment. 

Giorgi Gakharia on Merabishvili’s release – Georgia is a country of opportunities, not a country of challenges

“I do not want to talk about the mentioned issue today, but it was once again confirmed that the National Movement is the past.

The man said in the very first minutes of his freedom that he would overthrow. He did not say he would finish, or replace, he said he would overthrow. Let’s agree that we are oriented to the future.

They’ve had attempts to overthrow several times, but they have never succeeded and will never succeed. Our goal is to build strong Georgia, a country of opportunities, not a country of coups, overthrowing or the calamities we have left in the past”, - said Giorgi Gakharia.

Mamuka Khazaradze - I welcome his release, but the word “overthrow” is unacceptable to me

“I believe that if Vano Merabishvili goes back to prison in the near future, he will surely be a political prisoner, like Gigi Ugulava.

This is a justice system, which, both under the previous and the current governments, administers unfair justice and this is a problem of our entire country.

The main question I have with Vano Merabishvili is related to the funding for the National Movement by Bidzina Ivanishvili.

I welcome his release. As for his statement, the word “overthrow” is unacceptable to me. Revolutionary replacement of governments must end in this country. We all need to make choices for tomorrow, for progress, for our country’s development”, - concluded Mamuka Khazaradze.

Tea Tsulukiani - He is an unwanted hot potato even for the opposition

“He spent so many years in prison it is hard for Merabishvili to correctly realize the situation. He is an unwanted hot potato even for the opposition. 

Because he is already free, I would like to more strongly assess the work of his lawyers. The investigation into the withdrawal from the cell is ongoing, while lawyers and party members lied to Merabishvili.

They told him that he was a political prisoner, it was a lie, and unfortunately, sometimes, I witness how people lie to the prisoners. They lied and said that the Committee of Ministers would release Merabishvili, that the Council of Europe would release him. Bokeria, his lawyers, and party members told many lies through media. But this prisoner got released after he fully served the sentence”, - said Tea Tsulukiani.

Levan Koberidze – Let’s wait how they will share Merabishvili

“We heard political statements from him, so let"s wait and see how the United National Movement and European Georgia will share Vano Merabishvili.

Someone who committed a crime against the state and the people does not have a political prospect in the country. As for the word overthrow, I think that it is the memory of his from those times when he was the Minister of Internal Affairs”, - said Levan Koberidze, a member of the Independent MPs.

Levan Gogichaishvili - People like him can once and for all say goodbye to being the head of the Government

“Today Vano Merabishvili threatened to overthrow the state. It means our search for a new model for democratic elections was in vain. Merabishvili offers a very simple recipe for changing the government - overthrowing. People like him can once and for all say goodbye to being the head of the government”, - concluded Levan Gogichaishvili.

Kakha Kaladze – More Merabishvili to the opposition

“Vano Merabishvili is lost in time and space and cannot perceive reality. Let’s give him time to see his family, figure out what the reality is, what’s going on, and then listen to his position. More Vano to the opposition”, - said Kakha Kaladze.

MEP Sandra Kalniete - Merabishvili’s freedom comes at the midst of heightened political tension

“The EU had never been so concerned about the current situation in the country. Merabishvili’s freedom comes at the midst of heightened political tension and steady democratic backsliding in Georgia. Winning of this year’s elections at all costs, by bending rules and prosecuting opposition will have an effect on bilateral EU–Georgian relations”, - tweeted Sandra Kalniete.

Different opinions

Leader of the New Georgia opposition party Giorgi Vashadze said that the “fight for freedom continues” and “Merabishvili will play his role” in this regard. 
Leader of the opposition party For United Georgia Anzor Bitsadze says that if Merabishvili joins the united opposition [regarding 2020 election issue] they “will not sit at the table with him”. 
Georgian Dream officials say that Merabishvili “is lost in time and space and he is a hot political potato - unwanted by opposition parties”. 

Ruling party MPs Nukri Kantaria, Via Volski and Irakli Sesiashvili said that Merabishvili “who was demanding dead bodies and brutally dispersed rallies”, will never be able to gain public support. 

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