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Saakashvili Says Scandal Response Shows It's Better Than Russia


Georgian President Addresses UN General Assembly
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Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says his government's response to a prison-abuse scandal shows it is more democratic than Russia.

A day earlier, Russia had said the scandal, sparked by video showing guards abusing prisoners, raised questions about the Georgian government's ability to protect the rights of its citizens.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Saakashvili rejected the latest criticism, saying that Moscow did not like his country's democratic success. He claimed Moscow feared Georgia could serve as a model for other states in the region.

"Even the way, how we reacted, to the prison scandal we had recently, in Russia these things happen almost every day...and nobody gives a damn there about it," he said.

Saakashvili has vowed to punish those involved in the abuse and change the prison system.

The country's interior minister, among other officials, has stepped down over the scandal.

The scandal comes as Saakashvili's United National Movement faces parliamentary elections on October 1.

The footage of the abuse was aired on two opposition-leaning TV channels, raising concern among Saakashvili and his supporters that it may have been politically motivated.

Saakashvili's comments come as followers of the Orthodox faith took to the streets in the capital, Tbilisi, to join protests over the scandal.

"We, the clergymen and the students of the seminary and academy, gathered together with our people in order to express solidarity with prisoners and their families. The footage we saw was just shocking," explained priest Shalva Kekelia as he marched.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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