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Patarkatsishvili ally stripped of parliamentary immunity

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, January 29

The parliamentary procedural issues and rules committee voted to strip MP Valeri Gelbakhiani of his lawmakers’ credential yesterday, which will allow prosecutors to arrest him and search his property for evidence.

Gelbakhiani, once the head of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s presidential campaign, was formally charged on January 22 with plotting to overthrow the government.

In late December, with less than two weeks until the January presidential election, authorities released a secretly recorded videotape of Gelbakhiani allegedly trying to recruit a top Interior Minister official into a post-election coup plot orchestrated by Patarkatsishvili.

Shortly afterwards, authorities released a similarly incriminating audiotape of Patarkatsishvili.

Gelbakhiani has thought to have been out of the country since the tapes were released. In an open statement to parliament, he insisted that he is innocent, pointing out that he never used explicit words like “coup” or “overthrow” in the tape, which was edited from its full-length for public release.

The committee voted ten to one strip Gelbakhiani, the leader of the oppositional Our Georgia parliamentary faction, of his lawmakers’ credentials; oppositional Conservative MP Kakha Kukava, who sits on the committee, left the hearing in protest when authorities declined his request to play an unedited version of the Gelbakhiani tape.

Patarkatsishvili is also outside Georgia and wanted by authorities. The same day Gelbakhiani was charged, a Tbilisi court ruled to freezes in-country assets belonging to the billionaire and some of his Georgian business partners. His property within the country, the court ruled, could still be used to carry out his illegal plans.