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Prosecutor appeals to court concerning Tbilisi Mayor

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 26
The Chief Prosecutor requested Tbilisi City Court to suspend Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava from his office. Prosecutors have also asked the Tbilisi City Court to set the bail for Ugulava at GEL 1 million. Other non-custodial measures requested by the prosecutors include placing a travel ban on the mayor.

Ugulava is facing charges related to money laundering and the misspending of public funds. Ugulava was charged on February 23.

“When an individual is accused in the misuse of his authority, he should not been retained on the position until the court makes a verdict,” the chief prosecutor said, adding that the bail that is demanded from Ugulava is “reasonable” as the investigation accuses him of embezzling 20 million GEL.

Ugulava states that he will not be able to pay the bail as he has not such an amount of money. The mayor also claims that demanding of such an “unimaginable” bail aims at only one thing.

“The current administration knows that I do not have such a large amount of money and when I fail to pay the bail, I will then be detained,” Ugulava said.

The mayor emphasized that the demand concerning the suspension of his duty serves the coalition Georgian Dream’s plans. Ugulava explained that in such a situation the coalition will take control of the mayor’s office.

The accused also called the prosecutor’s demand "cynical," with regard to banning him from leaving the country. According to him, he has been abroad several times already since the new government took office and has never intended to run from the country.

UNM members call the actions ongoing against Ugulava as politically motivated, absurd and anti-state. The minority representatives reiterate that Tbilisi flourished under the leadership of Ugulava and that the mayor is being unjustly prosecuted.

“We hope that the Tbilisi City court will make a decision that will be fair… bail demanded from Ugulava is really unprecedented,” UNM leader Davit Bakradze said.

Members of the coalition Georgian Dream think that the bail is even “too small” for Ugulava. They also believe that Ugulava should not be able to rule the capital until the process is over.

“When there are serious grounds that a person who works on the high post might have committed serious crimes, his duty on the position should be suspended. As for the bail, I want to remind the former government that such individuals who just bought the stolen phones that cost only 30GEL were being given 150, 000 GEL as a bail during their leadership…thus, speculations that the bail is unprecedented is illogic,” Minister of Penitentiary Sozar Subari said.

Analyst Badri Nachkebia states that calling for the president or some other official for questioning should not be surprising.

“It was the time when Bill Clinton was questioned and that was not tragedy neither for him nor Americans…as for the accusations they are really too serious,” Nachkebia said.

Later on the day revealed that the court did not satisfy any of the demands of the Prosecutor’s office regarding Ugulava.