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President Zourabichvili - ‘I have decided to pardon Ugulava and Okruashvili’

I have decided to pardon [Gigi] Ugulava and [Irakli] Okruashvili.
Before the decision to pardon comes into force, I would like to address the public, for whom this decision may be difficult to understand and perhaps unforgivable.
Before I explain the reason behind my difficult decision, I must once again explain the essence of pardoning for everyone to understand:
  1. I am not pardoning political prisoners. I assume full responsibility for stating that there are no political prisoners in Georgia. 
Following the days of Zviad [Gamsakhurdia] and Merab [Kostava] (NB : dissidents of the Soviet era who were imprisoned and became symbols of the resistance to Soviet rule), we now live in a democratic Georgia. A country where we no longer have the hundreds of political prisoners filling our prisons as was the case under the previous government (NB : before 2012).
To clarify, let me add that a politician serving a prison sentence for a serious and well-recognized crime is not a political prisoner. He is just a guilty politician.
Sowing doubt regarding the existence of political prisoners in Georgia only serves to discredit the nation. It is false and entirely unacceptable. We must put an end to this.
  1. I am not pardoning innocent people. Pardoning is neither a review nor the reassessment of a court judgment. The offender remains guilty. He is freed from the sentence but not from the ruling. In other words, an act of pardon does not, in any way whatsoever, provide justification to the offender that has been found guilty!
  1. I have never and will never pardon anyone at the request, dictation, pressure, threat, recommendation, or out of fear of someone else. I have proven this on many occasions!
When speaking about the discretionary constitutional power of the President, no one should be declaring that the President ‘must’ act a certain way.
Furthermore, I am not issuing these pardons because of an agreement that was reached without my and in which I neither participated nor was informed on. And I do so despite the fact that I repeatedly suggested offering a presidential platform to the opposing sides. I believe it to be a political mistake to use the fate of guilty offenders directly or indirectly in negotiations, even within the framework of a constitutional or electoral agreement.
  1. This pardon is not based on the usual humanitarian principles or factual circumstances that traditionally result in a person's sentence being reduced or revoked.  
I would like to emphasize that I am making this decision not as Salome Zourabichvili, who perhaps knows most about the real actions and crimes against the country committed by these people, but as the President.  
I take this decision under the authority provided to me by the Constitution. I take full responsibility for it, based only on the interests of the country.
As it is well-known, I came to this country for neither personal ambitions nor material or other interests. I have been and am still driven by one guiding principle: the fate and future of my homeland. Because of this, I have been resilient to many falsehoods insults and will continue to remain so.
My principles have not disappeared. It is because of my principles that I cannot and will not allow my emotions and personal views to stand before national interests. 
Now, to address the main question: Why am I making this decision?
Today, the country, despite the international recognition brought by its success in dealing with the current (NB : Covid) crisis, despite being a more democratic, free, and stable country than at any moment since our independence, Georgia face the danger of a severe political crisis.
To put it bluntly, the agreement that was reached – and which I myself welcomed - remains ambiguous (the responsibility of which falls on both sides). This could call hamper the implementation of the constitutional changes and changes to the Electoral Code, and as a result threaten our main objective – to hold fair and peaceful elections.
The opposition has been trying to manipulate this situation with the aim of stoking unrest and bringing this process to the streets once more. By following this course, it is once again attempting to cause destabilization. I nevertheless believe the opposition’s ability to do so is no longer what it was. 
On the other hand, it does not appear that the “Georgian Dream” has the leverage to find a quick way out this deadlock and ease the situation. 
Therefore, I believe it to be my responsibility to find a solution, ease the situation, maintain stability, and buttress the international standing of the country. This the what stands behind my decision.
I cannot allow the situation to escalate because of two culprits. I cannot allow more polarization and controversy. I cannot allow the agreement recognized by the international community to not be implemented because of this. Otherwise, the country will not be able to cope with COVID-19 and its socio-economic fallout. Our stable, democratic and European future is at stake in this decision I am making!
I cannot sacrifice the future of the country for two people, no matter the costs. And trust me, this decision will remain one of the most difficult ones of my presidency. 
Today, I am taking on the heavy burden of freeing two individuals considered loathsome by a vast majority of society. At the same time, I am freeing this country from the heavy past that continues to hinder our progress and threaten our future.  
Fair and democratic elections will be held in Georgia and no one will be able to prevent it!

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