USA imposed sanctions on Otar Phartskhaladze
The US State Department imposed sanctions on the former Prosecutor General of Georgia, Otar Phartskhaladze.
The statement of the US State Department states that, in addition to Phartskhaladze, sanctions were imposed on Alexander Onishchenko, an officer of the Russian intelligence service.
According to the same information, Onishchenko allegedly helped “his accomplice- Phartskhaladze to obtain a Russian passport and, possibly, Russian citizenship”.
“Phartskhaladze has fully accepted Russian identity and regularly travels to Russia. Onishchenko and the FSB used the influence of Phartskhaladze on Georgian society and politics for the benefit of Russia. According to reports, Phartskhaladze personally benefited from his connection with the FSB.” – as mentioned in the statement of the US State Department.
The US points out that Phartskhaladze is a Georgian-Russian oligarch and he worked in the consulting sector of the economic management of the Russian Federation.
According to the same information, Phartskhaladze owns a 50% share in consulting companies MOSCOW BUSINESS BROKERAGE and INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORPORATION.
Otar Phartskhaladze held the position of the Prosecutor General of Georgia from November to December 2013.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili spoke about several issues at the government meeting on September 15 but did not mention the sanctioning of the former chief prosecutor.
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia Shalva Papuashvili noted that Otar Phartskhaladze has not held any position in the government of Georgia for the last 10 years. However, he also noted that Phartskhaladze is the first citizen of Georgia who was included in the package of sanctions against Russia, and the relevant agencies should study what we are dealing with.
Chairman of the “United National Movement” Levan Khabeishvili is sure that “all the traitors of Georgia and Putin’s allies will face consequences”.
“The last point will, of course, be the sanctioning of Ivanishvili, which is the most feared thing, I think that it should happen very quickly”, – Stated Irakli Kupradze the general secretary of “Lelo”
Irakli Gharibashvili used a governmental plane for a private visit to the USA
On September 9, the TV program “Nodar Meladze’s Saturday” showed a story according to which Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili used the government plane for a personal visit. The government of Georgia does not deny this information either.
According to the TV channel, he first brought his eldest son, 18-year-old Nikoloz Gharibashvili to Munich on a government plane, and then continued his way to the United States of America on a passenger plane.
According to the authors of the report, Irakli Gharibashvili flew to Munich on a government plane with several family members and then left for the United States of America. In addition, according to the information of “TV Pirveli”, after bringing the Prime Minister and his family members to Munich, the government plane did not return to Georgia until 28 August.
“The plane is theirs, operated by Georgian Airways. The prime minister does not order me, the government security orders me. I am always ordered by Chubinidze’s office. Prime Minister, is not a factory worker! The plane is not used only for official visits, it is used wherever the government deems it necessary,” says Tamaz Gaiashvili, the founder of “Georgian Airways” in an interview given to “TV Pirveli”.
In addition, Gaiashvili confirms that the government plane stopped in Munich for a week, and the crew returned on 19 August on another Georgian Airways flight. According to Tamaz Gaiashvili, a few days later they came to Munich again to pick up Gharibashvili, from where they returned with the Prime Minister on a government plane.
On September 12, Anzor Chubinidze, the head of the special service of state protection, announced that Tariel Gharibashvili paid for the charter flight of Tbilisi-Munich-Tbilisi to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili.
“The contribution was made by a private person and this amount is equivalent to 34 thousand euros in GEL. The amount was paid in advance and therefore, it is likely that it may be slightly adjusted after the airline company “Georgian Airways” presents us with a detailed cost estimate. The amount paid will fully cover the current expenses” says Chubinidze.
The last declaration was filed by the Prime Minister in October 2022, according to which his annual salary was about 45 thousand GEL. In the same declaration, it is also written that his parents gave him 150 thousand GEL.
Josep Borrell’s visit to Tbilisi
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, visited Georgia and met with the Prime Minister, the President and representatives of the opposition.
“I want to state very clearly that the door of the European Union is open to Georgia. The European Union is eager to support Georgia on its way to EU membership,” Josep Borrell told reporters at the EU Representation Office on September 7 at a briefing. “But I must also tell you that applying for EU membership is a serious responsibility. The status of a candidate is not something that belongs to this or that country undeservedly. It must be earned through serious reforms and commitment to EU values. Frankly, there is still a lot of work to be done.”
According to Borrell, in the case of Georgia, this work is the 12 priorities determined by the European Commission. “And to fulfil these priorities, hard work is not necessary to win the heart of Brussels, but to improve the lives of Georgian citizens, to satisfy their immeasurable Western aspirations.”
After the meeting with the Prime Minister, Josep Borrell said that the issue of impeachment of the President would make the situation even more tense.
Speaking about the implementation of 12 priorities, Borrell noted that Georgia has fulfilled three priorities, and work on the remaining nine priorities should continue. “There is no shortcut. Joining the EU requires hard work, political will and a clear commitment to EU values.”
Additionally, the EU’s high representative said: “We also need your engagement to counter Russia’s hybrid activities, starting with Russian propaganda and disinformation warfare, so the EU will continue to support the media and civil society… to help the Georgian people strengthen their resistance to information manipulation, including disinformation.”
In response to the statements about the “second front”, Borrell rejected the idea that the EU needs Georgia to open a second front against Russia and called it “noise, propaganda and disinformation”. He urged the population not to listen to such misinformation and linked the spread of such false narratives to intensive Russian propaganda.
At the joint press conference, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili had different messages from Borrell.
The Prime Minister noted that most of the recommendations have been implemented, and work on several of them, including the recommendation related to de-oligarchization, continues. According to him, the government will present an action plan in two weeks, in which the spirit of the recommendations will be reflected.
Garibashvili also emphasised the importance of judicial reforms carried out in Georgia during the last decade, the goal of which, according to him, is more inclusiveness, transparency and accountability of the judicial system. “Confidence towards the court is very high in Georgia, and in general, our court has the same level of trust as European courts,” said the Prime Minister.
According to him, the “Georgian Dream” achieved significant progress in European integration by signing the association agreement, visa-free travel, free trade and European perspective.
The opposition representatives assess the meeting with Josep Borrell
On 8 September, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Josep Borrell met with the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, and representatives of the majority and the opposition.
“On the part of the opposition, there was also a question regarding the status of the candidate. Meanwhile, it was also highlighted that the so-called terminological separation of people and government – the attempt that we hear unfortunately from the radical opposition in Georgia and unfortunately from some MEPs and European politicians, is unacceptable for the European Union” – said Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia.
Tina Bokuchava, the chairperson of the parliamentary faction of the “United National Movement” said that “the high representative spoke about the fact that the foreign policy of the current government is not in line with the foreign policy of the European Union in many directions and listed specific examples, such as the resumption of flights with Russia”.
Davit Usupashvili, one of the leaders of the “Lelo – Partnership for Georgia” political group, said: “Mr. Borrell told us directly that the door of Europe is open. He came here to help Georgia and to say that a small part of the recommendations has been fully implemented. Serious work is needed on the rest, there is enough time… I think the government representatives understood part of it and on remaining issues – explained to them how Europe should be changed so that it becomes worthy of Georgia”.
Beka Liluashvili, a member of Giorgi Gakharia’s party “For Georgia”, noted that “it was quite a difficult meeting for the Georgian Dream”. This is because the need to implement the recommendations was emphasised. It was proved once again that they cannot deceive anyone with this.
Salome Zurabishvili: I think everyone should forget the dream of my resignation
On 7 September, the President of Georgia addressed the citizens and said that she was not going to go anywhere and everyone should forget the dream of her resignation.
“Today, I want to address you, the community of Georgia, because I am accountable only to you. I am accountable because you chose me and I feel very responsible for this choice. I know that you elected me for what I am, what I have been all my life, that is a supporter of Europe, a supporter of the European future of Georgia, partly a European. This is the data you made your choice on, and I am accountable for that choice.
I know what kind of future you want for Georgia, what kind of future you want for the next generation, young people. I know that solving all the problems that the country is facing today, such as corruption, the outflow of people from the country, and the completely uncontrolled entry of Russians into this country, may not be solved, but it will be solved step by step when we join the European Union. This is our only perspective. That’s why I’m not going anywhere, I think everyone should forget the dream of my resignation. I am here where I am, but I will go wherever I am going because it is my highest constitutional obligation. I protect the constitution of this country, because I took this oath when I was inaugurated as the president of Georgia, and I will be faithful to this oath until the end,” said Salome Zurabishvili.
On 1 September, Chairman of “Georgian Dream” Irakli Kobakhidze noted that the ruling party is starting the impeachment procedure of the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili.