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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Monday, April 19
No amnesty for Giorgoba

Rezonansi says that the President pardoned more than 400 prisoners for Easter. The Pardon Commission recommended that only 85 be released but more than 400 were. Elene Tevdoradze, the head of the Pardon Commission, does not know why, but she says that as prisoners are now being pardoned by bypassing the Commission this practice might continue.

"We will not hold a sitting in May. I will not let anyone say that an amnesty is being set up before the elections. The next sitting will presumably be held in June, but I should agree this with the President," Elene Tevdoradze states.

"The President pardoned more than 400 prisoners for Easter – this action has not met with any negative response from either the public or NGOs. But if prisoners are pardoned by ignoring the Commission this might continue in future. The Patriarchate has also involved itself in the pardon process and I welcome it. But I am not aware of what happens after it makes its decisions. It is up to the President to decide which application to accept and which not. The Patriarchate and Commission work separately," Elene Tevdoradze adds.

Will the opposition participate in Ebralidze's congress?

Akhali Taoba writes that at the beginning of April Alexandre Ebralidze said that he intended to convene a great congress in Saint Petersburg at the end of the month. He said that Georgians living in various parts of the world had expressed great interest in this congress and it would make a great contribution to the unification of Georgia. Now however he is saying that Saakashvili is intending to disrupt the congress and will do his best to ensure that this significant event is not held.

The Georgian opposition has also expressed a desire to participate in the congress. Koba Davitashvili has said "I will certainly attend the congress. I am interested in the opinions of the Georgian Diaspora. The role of the Georgian Diaspora in regulating Russian-Georgian relations is very significant indeed." Other leaders of the opposition might also attend and will make official statements later.

The Government will also make an official statement about the congress at some point, but Papuna Davitaia, State Minister for Diaspora Issues has already described it as another perfidy of Putin. "Putin has a new strategic plan against Georgia, which involves using the Diaspora to confront the Georgian authorities. Alexandre Ebralidze, a businessman with a criminal past, plans to convene the international congress of Georgian people on April 22-23 to do this. They spare no money to achieve their ends," Davitaia said.

Labour's initiative to help the opposition

Sakartvelos Respublika states that the political parties which have refused to participate in the local elections are trying to help their colleagues, but they all want the opposition to have a joint candidate. The Labour Party will not take part in the elections but its main aim is still Saakashvili’s resignation.

In a briefing Paata Jibladze, one of the leaders of the Labour Party, has stated that pressure is being applied to electoral commission members in various regions where the mass rigging of elections usually occurs, for instance in Samegrelo, Samtskhe-Javakheti etc. Therefore Labour is offering different political opposition parties cooperation in order to ensure that these elections are fair and democratic.

“Despite the fact that we will not participate in the elections we strongly demand that they be held fairly and in a democratic way. We cooperate with all opposition parties and think that the only way to save our country is to obtain Saakashvili’s resignation,” Jibladze said.