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Opposition's 'black list and ruling party’s responses

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, January 9
About 30 parties united around changing the electoral system are working on the blacklist, which will include all high-ranking officials who, according to opposition parties, are politically persecuting citizens and it will be handed over to international partners demanding to impose financial and other sanctions.

The list will be published in early January, though 5 names are already known. Special Inter-parliamentary Commission for the Study of Political Persecution, created by representatives of opposition parties, will also compile a list of people who, in their opinion, are political prisoners.

The opposition claims that the blacklist mainly focuses on three areas: “Politicians who are engaged in fraudulent use of justice and political ends,” a judge, prosecutor or investigator who is involved in “fraud, misconduct, and political use of justice”, and “the victims of political persecution, blackmail, and justice - arrested or otherwise repressed people.”

As Gigi Ugulava, a member of the European Georgia commented, the blacklists have become a growing tool in modern international politics for rulers who are inclined to dictatorship.

According to Lasha Chkhartishvili, a member of the Labor Party, the commission worked on identifying and enlisting middle and lower-ranking representatives. Five of the blacklisted were named this Monday: Judges Valeriane Filishvili and Giorgi Arevadze, prosecutor Vazha Todua, Deputy Chief of the Tbilisi Patrol Police Main Division, Kakha Bukhradze and head of City Hall security service, Nugzar Chonkadze.

As for the criteria under which the commission will be guiding the blacklisting process, Chkhartishvili says the list will be identified both through existing video materials and court materials.

As MP Tina Bokuchava, one of the members of the Special Commission explains, there is direct and open evidence that they each violated human rights and used their positions for political revenge.

“There are 2 judges - Arevadze and Filishvili. The latter was present in most of the cases of June 20 and dealt with numerous procedural violations. Arevadze is mentioned in the cases of Nika Gvaramia, Badri Japaridze, and Mamuka Khazaradze, as well as Koba Koshadze. Prosecutor Todua was also mentioned in the June 20 cases. Bukhradze, the head of the Tbilisi patrol has been involved in several illegal activities, including arrests. The fifth is Chonkadze, who is known to the public as Suliko Kedelashvili,” said Bokuchava.

As the National Movement representative says, the next five will soon be published, after which the top ten of the blacklist will be made public and sent to diplomatic corps to further impose financial sanctions or restrictions on members of that list. As to the question of whether there are such precedents in international practice, the MP refers to the Magnitsky list and explains that their list is most consistent with this analog.

"In this case, a more accurate analogy is the Magnitsky list, which targeted sanctions on specific Russian officials and middle-level officials, including for example US sanctions on police, followed by reactions from EU countries. In my opinion, it is realistic that these people, who are human rights abusers, have been targeted by specific sanctions on our Western partners - whether financial sanctions or restrictions on movement,” said Bokuchava.

Kakha Kojoridze, a representative of the party Lelo for Georgia remarks regarding the list, saying that the main principle is to punish all the perpetrators.

According to him, fulfilling a political order and restricting human liberty on this basis is a crime.

“The principle is that the offender should be punished. We all agree that the perpetrator should be punished, no matter who he or she is and we should tell others - Police, Prosecutors, or Judges that if you restrict human freedom because someone from the Georgian Dream asked you, it is a crime, if you commit this crime, then you will at least have to leave your position, and might even go to prison," said Kojoridze.

According to him, this is not revenge, it is a state approach and it is necessary to improve the system so that there are no people who carry out illegal political orders. “This action, at least, is required to dismiss them,” he explained.

“The radical wing of our opposition is still trying to shift to political violence,” - the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Maia Tskitishvili, noted while commenting on the blacklist.

As Tskitishvili stated, blacklisting is unacceptable, especially by people who kept the entire population in a complete terror.

“We all remember very well that we were in a state of total intimidation, there were 300,000 probationers in this country, and 10 % of our population was convicted by the regime that is trying to make some blacklists today. Of course, this is the usual, permanent handwriting that these people have... Today they have the free opportunity to be in political life, to participate in political life, but, unfortunately, they continue to pursue this destructive path,” said Tskitishvili.

“People who have been on the blacklist for a long time are trying to compile other blacklists, - Gia Volski, the first deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament also commented.

According to Volski, the opposition is trying to consolidate its position with similar performances. He says there is no prospect that the so-called opposition drafted Blacklist will take the form of international sanctions.

He noted that taking an aggressive stance is one of the main directions of the strategy of the opposition working on the list.

According to him, such lists existed even during the National Movement's tenure.