February 20, 2020 - 17:37 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Georgia's former prime minister Vano Merabishvili said on Thursday, February 20 after release from prison that he would return to active politics and fight against the current government, Reuters reports.
Merabishvili, who was arrested in 2013, served six years and nine months in prison after being convicted of abuse of power, misspending funds and other crimes, charges he denied as politically motivated.
He served as prime minister for less than four months in 2012 under Georgia's then-president, Mikheil Saakashvili, until their United National Movement (UNM) lost a parliamentary election to the Georgian Dream coalition led by the ex-Soviet country's richest man Bidzina Ivanishvili.
"I retained strength, energy, hope, faith to continue the struggle in order to remove this regime this year," Merabishvili told reporters after release.
"I give you a guarantee that in a year this government will be finished."
Merabishvili was greeted by dozens of supporters outside the prison in the capital Tbilisi.
One of the most influential politicians in the former government, Merabishvili said he was "glad that he had not compromised with his own conscience during years in a solitary confinement in prison."
Dozens of ex-officials have been arrested on charges such as abuse of power and corruption since Georgian Dream came to power in 2012. Opposition politicians claim the government is carrying out a witch-hunt against its foes.
Several criminal cases have been opened and arrests have been made again recently against opposition leaders amid mass protests against the government and Ivanishvili.