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Georgia and Ukraine: Similar story different ending

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 4
Georgia and Ukraine were often put together because of the so-called color revolutions, but Ukraine failed and in just one term, its color leader Yushchenko, was replaced by the pro-Russian Yanukovich. This serves a main warning aired by Georgia’s Western friends not to repeat Ukraine's moves. This is the challenge for Georgia’s new administration.

One of the features of the current Ukrainian leadership is that it detained and later sentenced to prison, the former PM of Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko. Georgia’s former leadership now in the opposition has tried desperately to depict the current Georgian administration worldwide as one that is settling their political debts via mass arrests of former government members. It should be mentioned from the beginning that Timoshenko was detained and charged with financial manipulation, thus appropriating and misusing state money.

We are not going to go deeper into the Ukrainian case; in Georgia, the current administration claims it will follow the rule of law principle. This principle dictates that the law is the law for everybody, regardless of someone’s political affiliation, social status or otherwise. There is an old Georgian saying– stealing a needle or a camel are both crimes.

Georgia’s Western allies demand the rule of law principle. This warning should be taken seriously by the new Georgian administration. Above all, it must adhere to the principle of the presumption of innocence in all cases; the burden of proof rests solely on the authorities when charging an individual with an offense.

Of course arrests are definitely a topic discussion when there are high-ranking officials and representatives of law enforcement bodies being arrested. However, the final verdict on whether there is rule of law in Georgia or not should be made after the court hearings. If the evidence is not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the charged and people are imprisoned, this would become a scandal for Georgia. Nobody is asking Georgia not to punish guilty individuals, but they demand that convincing evidence is produced.

These concerns on behalf of the West have various reactions in Georgia. Some Georgians are irritated because of it. They think that the Western understanding of Georgian events is superficial and one-sided. Saakashvili himself and his National Movement arranged a very powerful and efficient propaganda machine. The president himself was a very good promoter of his position. He has very good communication skills, speaks different languages and thus, creates the image of a reliable, honest and democratic leader. Unfortunately for Georgia it looks like this is a false image. In a reality biased system, selective justice, intolerance and elite corruption were widespread in the country during the last 9 years. Most of the Georgian population who suffered during the Saakashvili regime expects the current officials to establish the rule of law, establish fair court system and punish all those who were guilty. This should also set precedent and serve as a warning for members of the current leadership as well. They must not repeat the errors of their predecessors. They should realize that they will have to take responsibility for any illegal misdeeds they are responsible for. It should be understood not as revenge, but as establishing justice and highlighting that everybody is equal in the eyes of the law.