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Moratorium wrongly interpreted

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, July 24
According to the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, detaining a person after declaring a moratorium is wrong politically. Margvelashvili made the statement in the context of former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava’s case on the talk show Barieri.

Prior to the local elections, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili appealed to law-enforcement to refrain from detaining those persons directly or indirectly involved in the election process. Ugulava chaired the United National Movement election staff. However, Ugulava was arrested at Tbilisi airport on the 3rd of July when he was trying to leave for Kiev. Tbilisi City Court sent Ugulava into custody on the 4th of July. Ugulava is charged with money laundering and the Marneuli election case. He denies these crimes, stressing that he is being politically persecuted by the Georgian Dream government.

“Certain allegations against Ugulava will be discussed in court. At this stage, I have no feeling that the court is under political pressure, or that Ugulava is a victim of political persecution. However, the fact itself that Ugulava was detained exactly after declaring a moratorium was not pleasant personally for me,” Margvelashvili stated.

According to Margvelashvili, he will make additional comments when he has a look on the following developments during the trials.

The same aspiration, regarding detentions during the moratorium, was made by the coalition MP Tamar Kordzaia. She stressed that Ugulava might use the issue in favor of his own interests.

“Ugulava was not arrested for political reasons for sure, but his detention during the elections when the moratorium was declared by the Prime Minister, was an unpleasant fact. Ugulava might use the factor for his interests,” Kordzaia said.

However, fellow coalition MP Irakli Sesiashvili explains that the moratorium or being a political figure does not mean guarantees or forgiveness of crimes.

“When it comes to committing crimes, the moratorium does not work. The issue has been wrongly interpreted,” Sesiashvili states.

Moreover, Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani states that “Ugulava was trying to leave the country and was found at the airport quite frequently…in this case, the moratorium would not have worked.” The minister added that the moratorium was a “kind gesture” from the PM’s side and nothing more, as there are no sections in the constitution demanding moratoriums during the election period.

Members of the United National Movement keep claiming that the government had violated the moratorium. They are stating that the ex-Mayor’s arrest was purely political persecution and used by the coalition to increase its rating prior to the run-off.