Protest and international response followed the illegal imprisonment of Zaza Gakheladze

Zaza Gakheladze – a citizen of Georgia was illegally detained by the de facto regime of the Tskhinvali region. On February 5-th, the de-facto court of Tskhinvali sentenced him to 12 years and 6 months in prison. He has been charged with “violation of the state border” and “violation of the life of a law enforcement officer. The same day a rally was held in front of the Georgian Foreign Ministry. Citizens criticized the Georgian Dream’s “Non-irritation policy” towards Russia and accused the government of inaction. Family members and relatives of Zaza Gakheladze blocked the central highway in protest.

Deputy of Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia [1] said that relevant consultations had been held within the Geneva format and with other partners. Meetings were requested within the framework of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). He also stated that OSCE Chairman-in-Office would visit Georgia shortly.

The opposition also assessed the arrest of Zaza Gakheladze. Sergi Kapanadze,[2] a member of European Georgia, said: “It’s a great failure of the government that a completely innocent citizen of Georgia is under such kind of sanction on the occupied territories “Rather than responding to a problem, Instead of dealing with the situation, the government and security services try to silence the Gakheladze’s family, so that no information can be leaked”

The illegal detention of Zaza Gakheladze was condemned by the embassies of the United States, the European Union, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, etc.

Member of “Lelo Georgia” Kahka Kozhoridze made a statement that there is an ongoing pressure on the families of activists by the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Kakha Kozhoridze [3], a member of Lelo Georgia, published on social media about an ongoing pressure on the families of activists by the employees of the law enforcement agencies. He claims that police contacted the family members and told them that “their children had committed a crime. Kozhoridze notes that “this is an unworthy behaviour on the part of the police, it violates the law and casts a shadow over the people who work in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and do their job in good faith!”

Two U.S. Congressmen, Gerald Connolly and Adam Kinzinger reintroduced bipartisan “Georgia Support Act” in the House of Representatives.

The co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Georgia, Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Gerald Connolly, once again presented their support for Georgia in the House of Representatives. The bill reaffirms the United States’ continued support for Georgia’s independence and sovereignty, recognizes Georgia’s commitment to democratic values, including free and fair elections, and reaffirms US opposition to Russian aggression in the region. The document states that Russia is stirring up unrest, aiding separatist movements and committing serious human rights violations, including arrests and killings in the occupied territories of the Tskhinvali region and Afkazeti. Russian forces continue to harass civilian communities along the administrative dividing line and impede the return of IDPs.

Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani said that the opposition’s rhetoric about Georgia’s strategic partners being concerned were unfounded, as confirmed by all US supportive acts. According to Tinatin Bokuchava, [4] a member of the United National Movement, the support act emphasizes the importance of democratic development, which stipulates fair elections.

The European Union has published a report on Georgia’s implementation of the Association Agreement

On February 9, the European Commission published a report reviewing Georgia’s implementation of the Association Agreement in 2020. The report states that Georgia continues to live up to its obligations under the Association Agreement, despite existing challenges, including the Covid Crisis.

The report discusses both the progress made by Georgia and the challenges facing the country. There is talk of reforms in the judiciary related to the observance of ethical standards, although it is clearly stated that there are concerns about the independence and transparency of the judiciary. Regarding the electoral process, it is noted that the elections were conducted in a competitive environment with respect for fundamental human rights, although there were cases of pressure on voters and there are question marks regarding specific components of the electoral process. Thus public confidence in the electoral process has decreased.

The report states that an agreement needs to be reached between the political forces. The report on corruption also states that “the development of an anti-corruption agenda would give impetus to the fight against corruption, especially high-level corruption.”

[1] Lasha Darasalia – First Deputy State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Integration (2017-2018); Head of the Analytical Directorate of the Georgian Intelligence Service (2016-2017)
[2] Sergi Kapanadze – Georgian diplomat, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (2011-2012); Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia (2016-2020)
[3] Kakha Kozhoridze – Georgian Lawyer, Chairman of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (2012-2014); Advisor to the President of Georgia (2015 – 2018).
[4] Tinatin Bokuchava – Georgian lawyer and politician, Member of Parliament of Georgia of three convocations (2012, 2016, 2020).

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EGI Political Digest was created with support from Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC). The views and opinions expressed in this Digest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EGI or SILC.

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