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Opposition parties urge the government to release Giorgi Rurua from prison

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, May 19
On May 18th, the representatives of opposition parties gathered at the office of Georgian Labour Party, including Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, who have been just released from prison. The majority of the opposition parties agree not to participate in the process of electoral amendments until Giorgi Rurua is released as well.

Tbilisi City Court has left Giorgi Rurua in custody. The judge did not grant the motion of the defence to change the measure of restraint. He was arrested on November 18th on charges of illegal purchase, storage and possession of firearms. However, opposition links his arrest to funding demonstrations planned in response to the events of June 20th.

‘We believe that today the court once again made a political decision under the pressure from the government,’ Salome Samadashvili, a member of the United National Movement, said when assessing the court's decision to leave Rurua in custody.

As she stated, opposition would remain committed to their united position and would not support constitutional amendments, until Rurua is still in prison. Samadashvili also noted that on the other hand, the government would continue to face severe pressure from both the United States and Europe, because Georgia’s western partners seek to receive the only solution, which is releasing political prisoners..

At the meeting at the Georgian Labour party office, the parties adopted a joint declaration, according to which their task is to hold the 2020 elections in Georgia in a calm, normal atmosphere, and to change the government through elections, which will be an important step forward on the path to democratisation in Georgia.

“After defeating the current government in the election, the democratic government must pull the country out of the present economic crisis and take key steps towards judicial independence, so that Georgia never faces the challenges of politicised justice and the existence of political prisoners in the country, ” reads the declaration.

Opposition parties believe that by releasing all political inmates, the country will step forward significantly to the fair and proportional electoral system. The declaration notes that putting through this process will be beneficial for the country as well as for its every citizen and not for any unit party.

On March 8th, leading and opposition parties in accordance with ambassadors of the US and Europe reached a mutual agreement, according to which, 2020 elections will be based on 120 parliament members with proportional and 30 with majoritarian mandates, there will also be a 1% threshold, and a cap recognising that no single party that wins less than 40% of the votes should be able to get its own majority in the next parliament. The agreement also contains a second part which addresses the appearance of political interference in the judicial system.