“Let Misha know: after my involvement, he will either regret very much or feel pain,” Ramishvili says.
By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Thursday, August 27At the end of his 4 year term, Shalva Ramishvili, a co-founder of the now closed Tbilisi based 202 TV Channel, was released from prison yesterday. Charged with Blackmail and extortion of money from then ruling National Movement party MP Koba Bekauri, Ramishvili was arrested in August 2005 in Tbilisi.
Reportedly, Ramishvili extorted USD 100 000 from Bekauri in exchange for not airing compromising footage which allegedly dealt with Bekauri illegally acquiring shares in the customs terminal Opiza. On his side Bekauri handed money to Ramishvili which was shot by a police camera hidden by Bekauri after which Ramishvili was arrested. Following his arrest, however, he denied the accusations and called it provocation. During his term in jail Ramishvili has never admitted the crime, stating that he is not guilty.
Ramashvili was the anchor of the then very popular and critical talk show Debates which was aired on 202 TV, and at that time 202 TV was the only station airing journalistic investigations.
In an open letter Ramishvili has published in the August 26th issue of the Georgian newspaper Rezonansi’s, Ramishvili writes that he served the prison term for “fabricated” charges and vows “to fight to the death” against Saakashvili.
“I was punished because of bitterly criticizing Saakashvili in 2004-2005, when he was at the peak of his glory…” Ramishvili writes and adds that the major goal of his imprisonment was underming independent TV station.
Ramishvili writes that he has two options now. The first is to be silent and leave the country and the second is to struggle against Misha. [Saakashvili, Ramishvili uses the first name in his letter] adding that he and the president know each other very well.
“Misha and I know each other very well, so we cannot cheat each other. If I involve myself in fighting I will not stop until death. Definitely Misha will try his best to destroy me… it will be a brutal and dangerous confrontation,” Ramishvili writes in his open letter.
Ramishviil says that he will not take any step back and will do everything to reach his goal adding that it is easier to make risky steps now than it had been before his arrest.
“Prison kills illusions in a man and today I can more easily undertake risky and adventurous steps. It is clear for me that it won’t be possible to defeat Saakashvili’s regime without such actions. So let Misha know: after my involvement, he will either regret very much or feel pain,” Ramishvili says.
After his release Ramishvili highlighted current conditions in jail. According to him the prisoners are in hard conditions in Rustavi prison No.2. [where Ramishvili was kept]
“About 500 people in this prison are without beds. There are problems in the treatment of the prisoners too. I intend to do everything to solve these problems, to address European Court of Human Rights. I call on everyone to join me in this fight”, he stated and called on the minister of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Aid Dimitry Shashkin to meet him to discuss the problems.
It was planned to release Ramishvili on Wednesdays at 11:00, though Ramishvili says that at about 08:00 he was rapidly taken out of the prison. Opposition representatives Koba Davitashvili and Kakha Kukava met him by his house together with other friends.