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Controversial ex-official likely to restart his political career

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, March 14
Irakli Okruashvili, who held several high posts under the former United National Movement (UNM) Government and then left country and took political asylum in France, has returned to Georgia and will allegedly be appointed as an assistant to the Gori City Council Chairman.

The information was confirmed by the Gori City Council chairperson, Ilia Metreveli.

“I assure you, I am the best option; Metreveli cannot have a better advisor than me,” stated Okruashvili.

“I am here to improve the situation. This town and Metreveli need a very good team,” stressed Okruashvili.

Okruashvili has not discussed his further political intentions.

Metreveli will also have another new advisor in the form of Kakha Ergemlidze. To appoint his new advisors Meteveli, fired his acting assistants.

“I made my decision based on the fact that Okruashvili and Ergemlidze are much more skilled than their predecessors and can do a better job for this town,” stated Metreveli.

Former Assistant of the Chairman of Gori City Council Natia Omanadze said she would appeal Metreveli’s decision in court.

“I was appointed to this position after I passed all the relevant exams. I have the right to fight for my rights. Metreveli has no legal grounds to dismiss me without clear reasons and explanations,” she stated.

Members of Parliament (MP) - mainly from opposition groups - say Metreveli will be a “puppet”, and the real chairman will be Okruashvili.

Okruashvili, 43, was born in Tskhinvali, one of Georgia’s occupied regions near Gori, and served in various important posts in the Government of Georgia under ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, including being the Minister of Defense from December 2004 until his dismissal in November 2006.

In September 2007, Okruashvili staged a scandalous comeback to Georgian politics, openly confronting Mikheil Saakashvili and creating the opposition party Movement for United Georgia. On September 27 2007, Okruashvili was briefly arrested at his party headquarters on the charges of corruption, money laundering, and abuse of office.

In 2007 he left Georgia and was granted political asylum in France. He was sentenced to 1-year prison term in Georgia in absentia in March 2008. In October 2010, he, remaining in France, created a political party in Georgia - the Georgian Party.

Okruashvili returned to Georgia in November 2012, after the Georgian Dream coalition defeated the United National Movement in the October 2012 parliamentary race.