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Georgia Says It Will Start Releasing Political Prisoners Jan. 12

Georgia will release 190 political prisoners starting Jan. 12 and seek measures to allow the return of 25 political exiles, Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani told reporters in Tbilisi today.

Lawmakers on Dec. 28 overrode a presidential veto of the legislation which allows the 215 to seek retrial after being jailed under the previous administration, led by the party of U.S. ally President Mikheil Saakashvili. The bill also authorizes the release of about 3,000 prisoners, as well as a reduction of prison terms for thousands of other inmates.

Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s opposition coalition won Oct. 1 parliamentary elections, defeating Saakashvili’s United National Movement and ending its nine-year rule. Ivanishvili’s coalition promised to restore justice, to raise living standards and improve relations with Russia.

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