Opposition under amnesty19.08.2009 | 23:46
This morning it was reported on release of ten oppositionists arrested during rallies of the Georgian opposition. At the meeting between a number of opposition leaders with power officials on August 12 the authorities promised to reconsider cases of the arrested oppositionists within a week's time. Some opposition members were skeptical about the meeting. Is the release of a small part of the detainees a signal that the authorities are ready for a real dialogue with the opponents? That there's a way out of the political crisis? Oppositionists expressed their opinions to GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
Information on release of ten oppositionists was newslined early in the morning as stated by Our Georgia-Free Democrats representative Zurab Abashidze.
This is the party recently created by Irakli Alasania who at the end of last year resigned from the position of Georgia's UN Envoy and joined the opposition. Alasania was well received by the society, he merged his team of diplomats with traditional opponents to the authorities - Republicans and New Rights into the Alliance for Georgia. Eventually he established his own party. It was Alasania and his teammates who inspired dialogue with the authorities. However all attempts to sit at a negotiating table failed: on August 12 a number of oppositionists met with power officials whose resignation had been pressed for by the opposition for months.
The meeting resulted in two agreements. Opposition and power officials established a 24/7 contact. Besides the power authorities promised to take a week's time to consider the list of 42 persons that the opposition called political prisoners. A day before this term expired ten detainees from the list were released. This is what Zurab Abashidze who was at the meeting with the power officials stated as the media report: "The release of opposition activists detained in penitentiaries has already begun. This process will continue. We didn't expect all detainees to be released the same day".
In the meantime many opposition leaders refused to meet the power officials not concealing their skepticism: what arrangements can be done with these authorities? Moreover, this week two Republican activists were sentenced to 3 and 4 years' imprisonment. Both of them are in the list presented to the Interior Ministry. As Civil.ge reports, they reject "frame-up" accusations stating they were detained for political reasons. Vice Speaker of Parliament representing the parliamentary minority Levan Vepkhadze stated that was the authorities' response to the opposition.
In spite of displayed "good will" and release of ten arrestees many oppositionists are still doubtful that the dialogue with authorities can be efficient. As ex Minister for Conflict Settlement told GeorgiaTimes correspondent, Goga Khaindrava, a radical opposition leader, knows nothing about the release of oppositionists so far. If this is not a fake then it's interesting who was released. As for the dialogue between part of the opposition and power officials our interlocutor remarked: "Each political leader chooses his own way and his rating will be answerable to the people and society. I believe that talking to the man in charge of all Georgian mishaps, all the illegality we have here, that is to Vano Merabishvili the Interior Minister is like persuading a wolf to become a democrat. If somebody believes this is possible, may God help them".
In reply to the question whether the release of arrested oppositionists means the end of the political crisis Khaindrava said: "The struggle will continue. The logical end of any political crisis is extraordinary elections no matter whether the authorities admit that or not. And we will press for it".
Nana Kakabadze, head of Ex Political Prisoners for Human Rights NGO in her interview with GeorgiaTimes correspondent said: "Among the released are not opposition leaders but simple participants of the rallies. They were just passing by during rallies, then power officials just saw the records and arrested them. According to Nana Kakabadze, the release of these people is not a goodwill gesture from the authorities but a PR action for restoration of their democratic image: they lost trust of Europe and the West after the rally dispersion in 2007. The government artificially tries to restore their democratic image it came to power with. But the fact remains: opposition-oriented Imedi TV is destroyed; just like at the time of the USSR the ruling ideology is imposed. Yes, there was no dispersion like in 2007 but arrests, detentions and beatings were daily. I don't know how the international community can be deceived but it's believed there that all spring events were quite democratic in Georgia. The real situation is that ten will be released while other twenty will be arrested. The only thing the authorities are good at is PR maneuvers and manipulations. I believe the opposition can't take part in this game, it must give due assessment.