Georgia, Tbilisi, Sept.21 / Trend, N.Kirtskhalia /
The Georgian government has taken drastic steps which show that it will cope with reformation of the system, leading expert of the Heritage Foundation for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy and member of Trend Expert Council, Ariel Cohen said at the Helsinki Commission hearings in Washington.
The topic of the hearings was the upcoming elections and pre-election situation in Georgia. Georgian ambassador to the United States Temur Yakobashvili attended the hearings.
Speaking about recent events in Georgia, Cohen stressed that scandals around the prison system are not new, not only for transitional democracies, but even for the U.S., which had scandals with Abu Ghraib and riots in two prisons.
Protest actions have been held in Georgia since Sept.18 in connection with videos of abuse of prisoners that were broadcast by opposition TV channels.
Georgian Interior Minister Bachan (Bacho) Akhalaia submitted his resignation to the President of Georgia, the Interior Ministry's website reported.
Akhalaia served as head of the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia from 2005 to 2008.
Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili granted a petition for the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Khatuna Kalmakhelidze's resignation, Georgian media outlets reported on Wednesday.
Prime Minister promised that all those who are responsible, including high-ranking officials, will be punished.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas O. Melia said that the pre-election environment in Georgia is competitive and equal.
Melia, who recently returned from Georgia, appraised the democratic steps that the Georgian government has made on the way to the elections.
"These parliamentary elections are the most significant in the history of Georgia, and they are competitive. Parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 1 and a presidential election to be held 2013 are a historical test, after which the power will go peacefully to the new parliament and president," Melia said.
He said the U.S. has always supported and will continue to support the aspiration of the Georgian people for democracy.
"The United States will cooperate with any political force and a leader elected by the Georgian people," he stressed.
Parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for April 1.