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Georgian President Pardons 251 Inmates After Parliament Amnesties 190 Others


Parliamentary Human Rights Committee head Eka Beselia (right) said an amnesty law was being drafted and that all individuals named as political prisoners would be released soon.
TBILISI -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has pardoned 251 convicts, even as parliament released its own list of political prisoners to be freed.

Presidential Pardon Commission Chairwoman Yelena Tevdoradze announced the decision on December 6, saying the inmates would be released shortly.

The names of those to be pardoned have not been released.

The decision comes a day after the parliament designated 190 inmates as political prisoners.

The chairwoman of Georgia's parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, Eka Beselia, said an amnesty law was being drafted and the named prisoners would be released soon.

The parliament, which is dominated by the Georgian Dream coalition led by Saakashvili's rival, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, also labeled 25 Georgian nationals living abroad as political refugees.

A number of those on the political-prisoners list are former government officials convicted of crimes since January 2004 under Saakashvili's presidency.

Since Ivanishvili's coalition won October's parliamentary elections, dozens of investigations have been launched against Georgian officials representing Saakashvili's United National Movement party.

With reporting by and Interfax