At Wednesday's meeting with several MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, majority leaders Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and the ruling party Georgian Dream's Executive Secretary, former parliament speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, initiated the creation of a special mission, composed of members of different political groups, to look into and thoroughly study the case of opposition leader Gigi Ugulava's arrest on charges of embezzling GEL 48 million from the Tbilisi Development Fund.
MEPs welcome ruling party’s offer on Ugulava case
By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, February 14
Kobakhidze said that MEPs had questions regarding the case. According to him, there’s a possibility of creating a fact-finding commission in the European Parliament and he hopes that such a mission will come to Georgia soon “to make sure there is no political persecution.”
“I am sure that the MEPs will see that 48 million GEL was embezzled and will say that such crimes must not be left unpunished,” Kobakhidze stressed.
After the meeting, they thanked the representatives of the European Parliament for their support and close cooperation. Kobakhidze noted that the talks focused on cooperation between Georgia and the EU, as well as domestic political processes.
The opposition is skeptical of the idea of creating a fact-finding commission.
Leader of the European Georgia Davit Bakradze, who like other members of the opposition says Ugulava is a political prisoner, has welcomed international involvement in the issue. However, he said that sending the commission to Georgia would have been meaningful before the conviction.
Giga Bokeria from European Georgia welcomed the creation of a European Parliament-funded study mission on Ugulava's case. However, he says the invitation to the Georgian Dream mission is a short-term PR move aimed at winning time. He stressed that the assessments of MEPs already testify that "the situation today, even without monitoring, is clear to all international partners and, first of all, to the Georgian society."
Ruling party MPs say that the opposition is “panicked, and they are actually against the communion, as they know the verdict was fair.”
According to them, the arrival of the mission is important, as Ugulava's case has been subject to speculation.
The Party of European Socialists supports the proposal to send a fact-finding mission of MEPs from the main political families in the European Parliament to Georgia to further investigate the Ugulava's case.
MEP Marketa Gregorova has told the Georgian media that making the proposal was a “step forward’ made by the Georgian Dream government.
Yesterday, PACE released its statement on Ugulava’s case, saying that “the ruling in Ugulava’s case raises questions regarding the procedure, timing and motivation of the decision. It also further heightens tensions in an already difficult political environment in Georgia.”
One of the opposition leaders, Gigi Ugulava was arrested on February 10, after the Supreme Court sentenced him to three years in prison. Ugulava has already served the sentence for the same charge.
The opposition has refused to continue the dialogue about the electoral system - its leaders say the government has run out of dialogue resources. EU, UK and US embassies responded to Ugulava's arrest and said it was a threat to the dialogue between the authorities and the opposition.