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Burjanadze gives testimony against Merabishvili

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 4
Head of the opposition party Democratic Movement-United Georgia and former Parliament Speaker, Nino Burjanadze, was summoned to testify on February 3 concerning the May 26 events.

Burjanadze stressed that May 26 was a “massive punitive operation.” She admitted that the previous government wished that the rally would have a victim, and the victim was a policeman.

According to Burjanadze the major guilty party in the May 26 events was Mikheil Saakashvili.

“I gave detailed information not only about the May 26 events, but some other very important issues as well, including launching a war in Abkhazia on April 2008,” Burjanadze stated.

Burjanadze claims that the former government of Georgia was going to start a war in Abkhazia, in April 2008.

“I told Saakashvili we will not win this war. They told me at the Security Council session that one of our soldiers is equal to 50 Russian soldiers; we have modern military equipment, while they have rusty military equipment. I want to say that Merabishvili was not very enthusiastic about this,” Burjanadze said.

Burjanadze emphasized that if she was really linked with the Russian Military Service in 2011, during the May 26 rally, why wasn’t she detained as well?

Merabishvili stated that Burjanadze’s testimony would be profitable for him. He stressed that there was nothing illegal in the dispersal of the rally. Burjanadze was a Parliament Chair in 2007 and her husband Badri Bitsadze served as the head of the border police.

“Bitsadze was the initiator of the dispersal of the opposition rally in 2007. It was not an illegal action. However, initiative was coming from Bitsadze and Burjanadze knows it very well,” Merabishvili said.

On May 25, 2011, hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in front of the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, demanding Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s resignation. The authorities warned protesters that they would break up the demonstration in order to make way for the planned Independence Day military parade on Rustaveli Avenue on May 26.

15 minutes after the rally permit expired, riot police moved on the demonstrators using water cannons and teargas to disperse them, beating and detaining many. In one case, they chased down demonstrators who had taken shelter in a nearby cinema. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia, 8 policemen, one journalist and 27 civil citizens were injured. Two people died - a policeman and a civilian. 90 people were placed in jails for 2 months, and criminal cases were filed against several of them.

After the new government was voted in, former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was accused of several crimes. One of the accusations is related to the excess of power on May 26, during the crackdown of the protesters. Nino Burjanadze, head of the opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia, who was one of the leaders of the May 26 rally, gave a detailed testimony against Merabishvili on January 3.

An incident took place before the trial of former Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.

Activists of Merabishvili’s supporting Free Zone and the Democratic Movement-United Georgia led by Burjanadze held a rally near the Civil Court building. So a confrontation took place between the supporters of Merabishvili and Burjanadze. Members of the Free Zone said Burjanadze was a spy of the Russian Intelligence Service. A clash then ensued. As a result of the clash, Burjanadze’s supporter Otar Tavartkiladze was detained.