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More charges against Merabishvili

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, May 30
Charges of former interior minister and current general secretary of the United National Movement, Vano Merabishvili, became heavier. According to the Prosecutor's Office, Merabishvili is being charged with exceeding official powers with aggravated circumstances in connection with breaking up of a protest rally in Tbilisi on May 26, 2011.

During the opposition rally that was organized by the head of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Nino Burjanadze, several men died and nearly 300 men received various injures.

The Prosecutor’s Office claims that the large-scale and indiscriminate attack on people with dissenting political views who were gathered on Rustaveli Avenue that night, were planned under the “personal instructions and supervision” of Merabishvili.

The Prosecutor’s Office stated that the actions carried out on May 26 were not related with raiding the rally.

“The operation had an explicit goal to arrest, intimidate, punish and to pressurize physically and psychologically the participants of the rally who had different political views,” the Prosecutor’s office stated.

Prosecutor’s office underlined that the protesters were not given reasonable time to empty the square “deliberately".

“As a result, two people died (an investigation is ongoing to verify the causes of their death) and over three-hundred people were injured… dozens of groundless arrests were made,” the Prosecutor’s Office suggests.

In an effort to disguise the crime, 15 policemen were given disciplinary sanctions; “However, none of them had taken part in the rally dispersal. Moreover, three of them were dismissed from their duties three days before the rally.”

Former Education Minister, Dimitri Shashkin, as all the members of the UNM state, says that Merabishvili is a “victim” of revenge of the new state administration. They stress that Merabishvili had done much good for the state and accusations against him are “groundless.”

Shashkin reminded the events of May 26 and underscored that he was personally listening to the demands of Merabishvili that were aimed at avoiding complications and to ensure the protection of people.

Representatives of the Georgian Dream highlight that the detention of Merabishvili is an absolutely legal process and that everyone is equal to the law. MP, Tina Khidasheli stated that displaying Merabishvili as a victim was failed at the Parliament of Europe. According to her, despite the attempts of the European People’s Party- Liberals, Greens and Social Democrats did not share the aspiration on catching political grounds in Merabishvili’s detention.

Political analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelidze states that “it is practically unimaginable” Merabishvilli to break up the rally without permission of President Mikheil Saakashvili. According to him, the fact that Saakashvili did not criticize Merabishvili after the rally, seriously damaged his and the UNM's rating.

Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, states that Merabishvili will only give evidence against Saakashvili if he sees that he was left alone.