Released Georgian doctor says he did not admit to crossing ‘border’

Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was released from almost two-month detention from Tskhinvali prison on December 28 held a briefing for media. Photo: Dato Koridze/RFERL, 29 Dec 2019 - 11:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was released from Tskhinvali prison yesterday, said he wrote a pardon letter to de facto Tskhinvali President Anatoly Bibilov on December 27, but he never admitted crossing the so-called border.

Gaprindashvili said that from the very beginning of his imprisonments until the end he never changed his position that he was on Georgian territory.

I was telling both Russian border guards or representatives of the Ossetian KGB or militia that I did not leave the Georgian territory and that I was on  Russia-occupied Georgian territory”, he added.

Doctor Gaprindashvili, who was sentenced to one year and nine months in Tskhinvali prison “for deliberately crossing the border” between the Russian occupied region of Tskhinvali and the rest of Georgia, said he did not expect to be released so soon.

Vazha Gaprindashvili with his family. Photo: Giorgi Kakulia/Georgian PM's press office

Gaprindashvili’s wife Tamila Lapanashvili, who had been actively calling for her husband’s release since his detention in early November, thanked everyone from the state to the media for supporting Gaprindashvili during his detention. 

Speaking at a news briefing yesterday, Vazha Gaprindashvili said he went to occupied Tskhinvali in November to visit a patient. However, due to security reasons he told Russian border guards that he wanted to visit a church in the village of Monasteri when he was detained.

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s advisor Irakli Chikovani said yesterday that the state institutions were working in coordination since the very first days of Gaprindashvili's detention and international partners were also actively calling on Tskhinvali to release him.