U.S Senators comment charges filed against Saakashvili
By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, July 30
Four U.S Senators “are extremely disappointed and concerned that the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia has filed criminal charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili and numerous senior leaders of the previous government.”
On July 28th, U.S. Senators John McCain, Ben Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen, and Jim Risch released a statement expressing their disappointment regarding the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia.
Saakashvili is charged with exceeding official authority related to breaking-up the anti-government protests in Tbilisi in 2007, the raid on of Imedi TV and other assets owned at the time by Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkacishvili, as well as a secret agreement between the Patarkatsishvili family and the then Georgian government, which lead to the seizure of Imedi TV.
“President Saakashvili and his government were not faultless, and it is important for any democracy to uphold its laws. But the pursuit of justice should not become a tool of political retribution and a source of national division, especially when Georgia has so many pressing challenges at present. We and others have urged Prime Minister Garibashvili and other Georgian leaders to focus on the future, not the past, and to help move their country forward, not take it backward. It is nearly impossible to see how the decision to put most of the previous government on trial is consistent with this purpose,” the senators said.
They advise the Georgian government to think long and hard about the direction they are taking their country, as some actions may impose unnecessary challenges in moving the Georgia-U.S relationship forward.
Commenting on the U.S Senators’ statement, deputy-speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Manana Kobakhidze said that the U.S is a strategic partner to Georgia and the politicians should have more trust in Georgian prosecution. She also said the possibility of political persecution against the former president is excluded. To prove it, the Georgian side is ready to provide the U.S Senators with all the material the prosecutor’s office has obtained on Saakashvili’s case.
The former President, who has been living in the U.S since his presidential term concluded, says the charges against him are politically motivated and he is not going to participate in this “farce”. In the case Saakashvili is not going to cooperate with the prosecutor’s office, the government may request his extradition to Georgia from the U.S.