Prison Minister Sozar Subari. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Prison Minister Sozar Subari on Friday responded to accusations made by the National Movement yesterday that the government has allowed the mafia to make a comeback in Georgian prisons.

Prisoners with influence over other inmates, called supervisors, were in abundance when Saakashvili’s party left office in October 2012. Subari places the number at 700, out of which about 200 had great influence.

But after the Georgian Dream coalition came into office, these supervisors have been isolated from the other prisoners, he said.

Subari said he believes that the so-called supervisory institute in the prison system was strengthened during Saakashvili’s government.

“The supervisors who the National Movement named in those prisons aren’t in those prisons at all,” he said.

Thursday, National Movement members accused the government of having brought back the system of mafia controlling prisons and named several so-called thieves-in-law and which prisons and prison areas they are in control of.

Thief-in-law is a title used about members of the old Russian mafia which developed in Tsarist times and continued under the Soviet Union and afterwards. Half of the world’s thieves-in-law are believed to be of Georgian origins.

Subari said the majority of the thieves-in-law named by the UNM yesterday, and claimed to be controlling the prisons, are placed in solitary cells now and cannot function as supervisors anymore.

“When Akaki Minashvili [UNM member] speaks about common regime, he is law maker and must know that common regime was cancelled four years ago, and there is no such notion in Georgian legislation,” Subari said.

“I guess he remembers [those who were] supervisors four years ago. When he speaks about supervisors of diner, this is ridiculous as it has never even existed.”

The minister says it was the 700 supervisors left over from the previous government who in October 2012 organized disorder at No 16 Prison in Rustavi and in Ksani prison.

“The majority of them are locked up today and cannot have influence over any of the prisoners. Some of them are released and are hiding, cannot even leave their houses, as they are afraid of revenge from other prisoners, because on the orders of the administration, they raped and beat the prisoners,” he added.

In a later statement, Subari said the Prison Ministry has video footage that has been recorded in long-term cells showing scenes of prisoners and their wives or lovers. These videos were used for blackmail, he claimed, and added that the videos are part of the surveillance archive currently under review for destruction at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Subari says that the ministry maximally controls prisons all over the country.