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Senators call on Ivanishvili to prove his position

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, December 13
American Senators have written to Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, requesting that he “prove” that Georgia is not using its courts to exact political revenge on former officials of the former government.

"We are deeply troubled by reports of detentions, investigations, imprisonment and the alleged persecution of political figures associated with the opposition party in Georgia," read the letter written by Jeanne Shaheen (D), Joe Lieberman (I), James Risch (R), Lindsey Graham (R) and John McCain (R).

The US senators expressed their “growing concerns” about the possibility that the actions of the current Georgian leadership are politically motivated and designed to settle political scores in the aftermath of the recent elections.

“We urge you to ensure that your administration does everything necessary to avoid even the perception of selective justice against members of the previous government,” the senators stated.

The senators underscored that they are troubled with the fact that current Georgian officials, including the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Maia Panjikidze, refer to the former officials as criminals and guilty before the court’s decision concerning the cases.

The current administration responded by stating that no one is being pursued in the country on political grounds and explained that the international community is being consistently informed concerning the ongoing issues inside the country.

“It is possible that the International community still lacks information regarding the current arrests. We are ready to provide additional information to all interested sides, including the evidence and explanations in order to remove their concerns. I am sure after such action no one will doubt the ongoing arrests might be unfair,” Interior Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili stated.

Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani underscored that each action of the current government falls under legal and democratic frames.

Coalition member Gedevan Popkhadze confirmed that Georgia really has court-related problems. However, he explained that the problems were created because of the actions of the previous government.

“We are trying to establish an impartial court and this process has just been launched,” Popkhadze emphasized.

The minority is unanimous in the belief that the ongoing arrests in the country are politically motivated. According to minority MP, Davit Sakvarelidze, Ivanishvili has no idea what the democratic process even means.

“He has not lived in such a country (democracy) and has not accumulated his billions through an impartial court,” Sakvarelidze stated, adding that it became obvious for the international community that the actions of the new Georgian government do not respect democratic values.

Fellow minority MP, Gigi Tsereteli, underscored that the senators’ statements served Georgian interests. According to him, the remarks should be taken into consideration and should not cause irritation for anyone.

“The senators care about Georgia’s image. There should not be any question regarding the fact that the ongoing detention process in Georgia is politically motivated,” Tsereteli said.

Former deputy Foreign Minister and current representative of civil society, Sergi Kapanadze, explained that the Georgian government should take these appeals into consideration.

According to political analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelidze, the American senators are protecting their own reputation rather than the Georgian image.

“All those senators have been praising the former Georgian Government and current president. In the case that they had not made such a statement it would be a sign that they had praised the criminal regime. The senators are making such remarks not to find themselves in an awkward position,” Sakvareliudze told The Messenger.

The analyst also excluded political grounds as a motive behind the arrests and cited the reasons why he thinks so.

“In general, political arrests take place when some individual has some influence on the process. None of the figures who have been arrested now, including Bacho Akhalaia (former Defense Minister) has any influence currently. Secondly, the accusations set against the former officials are lighter than the public thinks they had committed against the country and the outcomes of the trials are different and in some part do not fit within the government’s interests. There are lots of former officials, very influential ones, who freely walk in the streets,” Sakvarelidze stated.