The messenger logo

New head of PACE refers to ex-Tbilisi Mayor as political prisoner

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, January 27
The recently-elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE), Spanish lawmaker Pedro Agramunt from the European People’s Party (EPP), said in his very first speech that Georgia’s former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava is a political prisoner.

The PACE official has already received the criticism from the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition members, who said that Agramunt “has always supported the United National Movement (UNM) and that his statement was “biased and unfair.”

“Thus, the liberation of figures such as the Ukrainian [military pilot] Nadiya Savchenko [who is in detention in Russia and who was elected in absentia to Ukraine’s parliament in 2014] and other political prisoners, including Giorgi Ugulava from Georgia, and the defence of their liberty, their freedom of movement and freedom of speech, must be one of the priorities to take up with the authorities of the countries concerned,” said Agramunt

The Chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, who was just elected as PACE Vice President for a year term, Tedo Japaridze, dismissed the Spanish lawmaker’s assertion.

Japaridze said during a debate in the Assembly that Ugulava was convicted of misuse of funds from the budget of Georgia and no one is above the law.

"President Agramunt mentioned a Georgian name in his speech and called him a political prisoner. This person was convicted of misuse of funds in Georgia. Do you want to know whether I'm glad with the fact that this man is in prison? Of course I am not, but no one is above the law in Georgia.

“We are an independent, sovereign state. PACE should contribute to the consolidation of democracy in Georgia,” said Japaridze.

Meanwhile, the UNM opposition party welcomed the PACE official’s statement and told the current state leadership to refrain from critical statements to the organisation’s leader, which has worked to support Georgia on its democratic path.

One of the leaders of the UNM ,Ugulava was sentenced in September 2015 to 4 years and 6 months in prison after being found guilty of misspending public funds while serving as the mayor of Tbilisi.

Ugulava claims the charges are politically motivated.

In December last year, President Giorgi Margvelashvili refused to meet the appeal of a group of citizens asking him to pardon Ugulava.