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Witch-hunt continues in Georgia

Witch-hunt continues in Georgia

Senior foreign officials warned tycoon Ivanishvili to end a series of arrests of people linked to Saakashvili's party.

As expected, Georgia is facing a wave of arrests. Though Bidzina Ivanishvili had pledged not to start a “witch-hunt”, in fact he did. The West perceived the arrests of ex-ministers linked to Saakashvili so seriously that Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, and Eric Rubin, U.S. Deputy Assistant of Secretary of State rushed to Tbilisi.

PanARMENIAN.Net - According to Financial Times, senior foreign officials have also warned Bidzina Ivanishvili, the tycoon whose opposition coalition won a surprise victory in parliamentary elections in October, to end a series of arrests of people linked to the party of Mikheil Saakashvili, who remains president.

First, the authorities arrested a former defence minister under Saakashvili, Bacho Akhalaia, charging him with abuse of military personnel. More than 15 arrests have followed, including Tbilisi’s deputy mayor and 10 interior ministry officials.

Ivanishvili is accused of undermining the democratic legacy of the “Rose Revolution”. The charges are not quite to the point, if one bears in mind that it was namely the West that brought Saakashvili to power. His policy of impunity and violation of law to pursue his ends resulted in his failure at the elections. Furthermore, Ivanishvili has publicly renewed the call in recent weeks for Saakashvili to resign, though the president is due under Georgia’s constitution to serve another year.

The new government has also put pressure on Saakashvili to move out of a lavish presidential palace, built in recent years in the style of Berlin’s Reichstag building, on cost grounds, Financial Times reports.

Meanwhile, former chairperson of the Georgian parliament Nino Burjanadze voiced readiness to assist the investigation against the former authorities pursued by the Georgian Dream Party. “I have nothing to fear, while the United National Movement (president Saakashvili’s party) should worry. I’m ready to take part in the investigation process on any issue, on any specific case that may need my explanations,” Burjanadze told the Georgian journalists. Earlier, she had declared that “lawfulness of the United National Movement’s existence” should be examined. According to her, Saakashvili, along with other high-ranking officials of the country must face a free trial.

Shalva Khachapuridze, a renowned lawyer, shared her opinion claiming he would address Georgia’s Constitutional Court to ban the United National Movement, party of the Georgian president.

Representatives of the new government deny any political motives behind the arrests, promising that the upcoming trials will be most transparent. With regard to the recent arrests, the U.S., EU and NATO urged the Georgian government to abstain from political interference into the process of the court proceedings. It is no secret that the majority of Georgian people supported Ivanishvili’s political coalition because Saakashvili’s party, when at power, recorded numerous violations of the law, and the available evidence provides enough grounds to arrest the suspects.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes that the West lacks unbiased information about the real situation Georgia had faced with the former authorities; also, having provided much support to Saakashvili, “it is unwilling” to acknowledge “large-scale violations” that took place back then. In this context, he quoted the examples of a number of Arab states including Egypt. “Leaders of Arab states who enjoyed Western support for years were often recognized as offenders only after their own people decided to condemn the authorities. When Mubarak faced trial after the revolution in Egypt, the West did not label it as political persecution; neither did the West admit it had supported his criminal regime for many years,” the expert said.

Karine Ter-Sahakian
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