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Does Saakashvili case mirror Tymoshenko’s?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, August 12
President of Freedom House David Kramer states that “there is an impression that Yanukovych acted against Yulia Tymoshenko exactly like that the current Georgian government acts against Mikheil Saakashvili.”

Kramer believes that there are two options for the country: The first is that all people - including the current and former leaders – are to be held accountable for their actions. The second option is that the country should continue to move forward, and the government should focus on the current and future challenges.

Kramer is sure that the legal proceedings against the former President cause contradictory reactions in the West.

“We say that the State Department issued a statement expressing concern. Saakashvili’s supporters also expressed concern in Congress. The same was said by EU member states, but there are people who think that Saakashvili should be held accountable, especially for the crackdown of the November 2007 protests and taking over Imedi TV. I think the situation was complicated by the additional charges filed against the former President, which are related to the events of 2005. There is an impression that this is exactly how Yanukovych acted against Yulia Tymoshenko. I mean the filing of various charges against Saakashvili until he is arrested. This creates a possibility to think that the Prosecutor’s Office uses the legal process for political purposes. I think the Georgian government cannot avoid the burden of proving that the allegations do not have a political purpose," said Kramer.

Kramer thinks that the charges against the ex-President might cause more concerns in Germany, which was against granting Georgia the NATO membership Action Plan. Thus, he states that more problems might emerge in terms of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration owing to Saakashvili’s charges.

The High Representative of the EU Catherine Ashton and the Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule also released a statement several days ago with regard to the criminal charges against the former President of Georgia. They express their concern over charging Mikheil Saakashvili, and called on Georgia’s politicians not to pay attention to the past conflicts and concentrate on the future of the country.

The opposition United National Movement, which speaks out about the political pressure and pursuit in the country, claims that the current government of Georgia damages the state image and spoils relations with Georgia’s strategic partners through filing these charges.

However, the government members are unanimous that all are equal before the law and that all the charges are based on thousands of appeals made by people.

Meanwhile, one of the leading Georgian NGOs, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association examined Saakashvili’s court hearing and subsequent decisions, and came to the conclusion there was nothing to suggest the court’s ruling of ordering pre-trial detention on Saakashvili in absentia was unjustified or a violation of the law. In a long statement released on August 8, GYLA discussed both sides of the argument that were voiced by the prosecution and defence during a hearing where the prosecution filed a motion to Tbilisi City Court asking for pre-trial detention be imposed on the ex-leader.

The GYLA concluded the decision to impose pre-trial detention on Saakashvili was justified. However, the organization said it was not in a position to determine the validity of the charges against Saakashvili, as it did not have access to the case file.