Outcomes of Ugulava’s arrest
By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 11The arrest of the ex-Mayor and one of the leading figures of the United National Movement (UNM) Gigi Ugulava caused serious speculations in Georgia and abroad. The UNM compares the detention to political persecution. However, the Georgian Dream coalition rules out such speculation, linking the issue to the restoration of justice and court competence. Many in the country believe that several similar steps will follow his arrest.
In the post-Soviet era, in many former post-Soviet countries, such as in Georgia, governments think that they can stay in office for a long time, maybe even forever.
The same occurred when the UNM came to power. Its leaders were seriously discussing options about how to prolong their being at the top position. They used Swedish, Japanese and Mexican examples in this regard.
Such an approach created a non-punitive syndrome. In fact, 9 years of holding office convinced the UNM leadership that they could do everything they wished. Therefore, the party had thought that they would not have to answer for any wrongdoings. However, they lost elections in 2012 and currently there are loads of questions the UNM has to respond to.
Moreover, Georgians are demanding the restoration of justice and punishment of those officials who have committed crimes. They stress that the UNM had violated their human rights, property rights and so on. People do not want revenge, they are just asking for a restoration of justice. The West meanwhile is watching the situation carefully. They state that such developments should not be transformed into a political persecution and selective justice. From the distance, the current Georgian situation might look like that. Ex-Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, ex-Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia, other former officials and now ex-Mayor Ugulava have all been arrested, waiting for final verdicts.
Formerly being a high ranking official is not an excuse for an ordinary citizen. The west should understand that.
There are several well-known cases when high ranking officials were arrested abroad when they had a single fault, when almost all former officials in Georgia who were sent to prison are charged for several wrongdoings.
The situation is rather awkward. Eventually, Georgia will have to punish all those who have committed crimes; the process will include hundreds of people. Another option is to pardon all of them. However, such a solution will create a negative reaction from the public.
Thus, we are standing at a crossroad. The dilemma cannot be easily resolved.