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Interior Minister asks not to discredit police

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 8
Georgia’s Minister of Internal Affairs has held a special briefing, wherein he responded to the opposition’s allegations over a rise in the crime rate.

Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili launched his speech by mentioning of Demur Sturua, a young man who committed suicide last month in Georgia’s western Samtredia region due to alleged pressure from a local policeman.

“Firstly I want to express my deep sorrow over the incident. My firm position is that everyone is equal before the law. If the policeman was really guilty and it is officially confirmed, we aren’t going to forgive. Our reaction has always been and will always be very appropriate,” Mgebrishvili said.

The Minister stressed it was his Ministry’s responsibility to punished law enforcement officers for committing certain crimes in order to avoid systemic offenses in the future.

“However I want to say that I will always defend all honourable policemen and won’t allow abuse of the police in general due to isolated incidents like this.

“Such type of approach and offending the police could demotivate conscientious policemen that will affect the state security,” Mgebrishvili stressed.

The Minister said about 40,000 people were employed in the police system and the majority were “patriots and professionals, in 24 hour service of the Georgian people.”

“That’s why I appeal to everyone; when making statements, don’t criticize the entirety of the police unfairly as our police deserve respect. As never before, our police are focused on public safety.

“People, who deliberately attack the police know well that the police are the basement of the state security and weakening the institution means weakening the state,” the Minister emphasised.

The Minister also stressed several criminal incidents occurred in Tbilisi these days ago, when some people were killed and injured.

“All of the cases were responded to quickly and the alleged offenders were arrested. However, in the police system, the prevention of crimes is no less important than the opening and closing of criminal cases. People’s attitudes and cooperation with law enforcers in terms of prevention is crucial,” Mgebrishvili said.

In a final note, the Minister highlighted the importance of holding the upcoming October 8 Parliamentary Elections in a peaceful environment.

“We are facing an important challenge - we must ensure the elections are held in a safe and calm environment.

“I appeal all to refrain from involving the police in a political fight - none of those attempting this will manage to discredit the police,” Mgebrishvili stated.

The Minister vowed that he and his Ministry would not let any attempt of destabilization, and any outbreak of violence would be promptly responded to, no matter who is responsible.

The Minister came under fire from the opposition after making his statement.

Member of the Republican Party Levan Berdzenishvili said Mgebrishvili did not understand his responsibilities.

“I don’t know whether he mentioned it directly or not, but men were killed in Tbilisi in the daytime and very openly,” Berdzenishvili said.

The UNM opposition party accused the Minister and the Government as a whole of allowing the crime rate to rise, and claimed that the ruling Georgian Dream party were dragging the country back into the darkness of the 1990s.