The court sentenced Nika Gvaramia to imprisonment

Tbilisi City Court Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze sentenced Nika Gvaramia, General Director of the Government Critical Mtavari TV, to prison. Today, on May 16, the judge found Nika Gvaramia guilty under Article 220 of the Criminal Code – abuse of power.

Judge Chkhikvadze qualified another charge against Gvaramia under Article 182 of the Criminal Code (misappropriation or embezzlement) under Article 220 and fined him GEL 50,000 in favor of the state budget.

The indictment filed against Nika Gvaramia by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia in the summer of 2019 refers to the period when Gvaramia was the General Director of Rustavi 2 TV. The prosecutor’s office accuses him of “illegally embezzling property rights, commercial bribery, forging and using a forged official document, and legalizing large amounts of illegal income by a group with prior agreement, using his official position and receiving an amount of income.”

The Public Defender’s Office addressed the Tbilisi City Court in November 2019 with the “opinion of a friend of the court”, which discussed the case-law of the United States, the United Kingdom, continental European countries and Georgia. According to this practice, such an entrepreneurial decision can not lead to not only criminal but even corporate liability. According to the ombudsman, the decision made by the director may be to make less profit, but to serve the best interests of the corporation and to ensure short- or long-term risks. 

The US Embassy in Georgia said that Gvaramia’s detention is a testament to Georgia’s commitment to the rule of law.

“From its inception, this case has raised questions, including about the timing and the charges. The disturbing pattern of selective investigations and prosecutions targeting those in opposition to the current government undermines the public’s confidence in the police, prosecution, the courts, and the government itself. Particularly at this time, when Georgia has an unprecedented opportunity to advance its Euro-Atlantic integration, even the perception of politicized prosecution is detrimental,” the U.S. Embassy stated.

Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Seimas, also commented on Gvaramia’s arrest: “Georgian Dream seems willing to make everything possible to destroy countries’ democratic credentials and make all mistakes on solidarity with Ukraine, imprisoning President Saakashvili before historic EU decision on candidate status. So sad to see Georgia missing the opportunity.”

GD Hints at U.S. Pushing Georgia into War

The Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze advanced accusations that certain forces from abroad –  hinting at the U.S. – are pushing the GD founder, former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili to return to politics and make a choice “for war.”

The somewhat outlandish accusation, echoed by pro-government pundits in what looks like a coordinated campaign, came as Switzerland-based investment banking company Credit Suisse is said to delay the payment of around USD 600 million to Ivanishvili, which he won in a court settlement.

GD chair says the bank unfairly quoted “geopolitical circumstances” to justify the delay.

Kobakhidze then insinuated, that such reasoning by the Swiss company came as one part of the coordinated action from abroad, with other elements being Ukraine’s decision to recall the Ambassador from Tbilisi, and the recent release of audiotape purporting to show Ivanishvili having business dealings with sanctioned Russian tycoon, Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

“If someone is attempting to make Bidzina Ivanishvili return to Georgian politics against his will so that the country joins the [Ukraine] war…. they don’t know Bidzina Ivanishvili well, I think,” Kobakhidze argued.

Although being questioned by a journalist, whether he meant the U.S. was behind this alleged “coordinated effort,” the GD chair responded that “given [his] political responsibilities [he] could not go into such details.”

Kobakhidze’s accusations came as PR company Cision, hired by the Ivanishvili family, reported on May 6 about the new lawsuit against Credit Suisse in Guernsey Court, alleging significant failures and political pressure by the CS trustee.

The company said Ivanishvili was planning a series of “meetings with the media” internationally to “break down the myths associated with the so-called untainted image of Swiss banking and the judiciary.”

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan today said she was confused by Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze’s assertion — possibly hinting at the U.S. — that the delay of Credit Suisse’s payment to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili was part of coordinated efforts from abroad to draw Georgia into war with Russia.

Ossetia: Russian Annexation Referendum Scheduled for July 17

Outgoing South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov has signed a decree to hold a referendum on “joining” Russia on July 17. The occupied region’s “supreme court” green-lighted the move.

“We did it,” the joyous leader of Georgia’s Russian-held province wrote in his Telegram channel late yesterday. “We have taken a momentous step – we are going home, we are going to Russia.”

Bibilov, a deeply unpopular local leader, pledged to seek Russia’s annexation of the region just days before the first round of sham presidential vote of April 10.

But the recent loss by a landslide in the runoffs did not deter him from unilaterally setting the date on referendum, without prior consultations with incoming leader Alan Gagloev.

It is not fully clear whether the Kremlin will proceed with the annexation or use it for further leverage on Tbilisi, where many fear further Russian troubles amid Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.

Gagloev, set to assume office on May 24, asserted that “as the son of my motherland and the president of South Ossetia elected by the nation, I fully support the idea of reunification of the divided Ossetian nation within the united Russia.”

The incoming leader expressed doubts whether Bibilov coordinated the decision with Moscow in line with bilateral treaties, the absence of which, he said, would risk Russia’s unwillingness to absorb the region.

It is not fully clear whether the Kremlin will proceed with the annexation or use it for further leverage on Tbilisi, where many fear further Russian troubles amid Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in March, Georgia reacted that “it is unacceptable to discuss any referendums while Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia.”

Georgian Ex-Military Sentenced Five and Half Years in Tskhinvali Prison

Georgia’s State Security Service has said authorities in the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia sentenced Georgian citizen Mamuka Chkhikvadze to five years and six months in prison.

Chkhikvadze is reportedly a former military officer, arrested in December by the occupation forces near Zemo Nikozi village, a Tbilisi-controlled settlement right to the south of occupied Tskhinvali town.

“The illegal decision was preceded by the unlawful arrest of Mamuka Chkhikvadze by the Russian occupation forces and the fabrication of charges against him,” the Security Service noted in the statement, released on May 12.

It asserted that Chkhikvadze’s ruling demonstrated once again “the inhuman and criminal nature of the occupation, for which the Russian Federation has full responsibility as a force exercising control over the occupied territories.”

The Security Service also stated that from the very first days of the arrest the “hot line” managed by the European Union Monitoring Mission has been regularly activated and that Chkhikvadze’s unconditional release is demanded at the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings in Ergneti.

During the recent IPRM meeting in April the co-facilitators from the EUMM and the OSCE have voiced their concern about the high number of active detention cases in Tskhinvali and urged for a humanitarian approach towards their resolution.

Earlier in mid-December, Georgian media cited Chkhikvadze’s friends as reporting that the man was subject to beatings and inhuman treatment in Tskhinvali’s notorious prison.

 

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