Irakli Gharibashvili Complains to EC President Over European Parliament “Falsehoods”

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili addressed a letter on July 18 to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen complaining about the “falsehoods” in the European Parliament’s June 9 resolution, which slammed the ruling Georgian Dream party over handling press freedom and called for sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili, ex-PM and GD founder.

PM Garibashvili writes that the resolution’s labeling of Ivanishvili as a destructive oligarch controlling Georgia’s government is problematic. In particular, the PM took issue with the resolution’s critical view of Ivanishvili’s perceived ties with Russia and the calls to impose personal sanctions against Ivanishvili.

According to PM Garibashvili, that resolution “is not based on any evidence and is aimed at discrediting the current system of governance in Georgia.”

He reiterated that there is no evidence of Ivanishvili’s involvement in Georgian politics, justice, or of his ties with Russia. “Everything written in the resolution about informal governance is totally fictional,” PM Garibashvili added.

Repeating a recent mainstay of the ruling party’s narrative, PM Garibashvili underscored that the allegation of Ivanishvili’s staying power over the government insults both the PM and the country.

While the PM thanked President von der Leyen for the European Commission and European Council not repeating similar calls for sanctions in their decision to grant the European perspective to Georgia, he called on the Commission to “express its clear position […] to fully neutralize the negative impact of the resolution passed by the European Parliament.”

PM Garibashvili claimed this was an “essential precondition for staying away from deepening the perception of unfairness among the Georgian people towards European institutions and for keeping the radical wing of the opposition away from deepening the polarization on the grounds of the resolution passed by the European Parliament.”

Former US ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly responded to Gharibashvili’s letter on Twitter: – “Why is the PM (Garibashvili) writing the EU President on behalf of his country’s richest man, ignoring the EU’s other points on needed reforms? If nothing else, it shows that his priority is to put one very rich man’s interests before those of his country.”

Former Deputy Head of the State Security Service of Georgia was arrested

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia announced in a statement on July 17 that they officially filed charges against Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili, the former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG), after he was arrested in a special operation on July 16. 

Gogashvili was charged with Articles 333, exceeding official powers, 157(4) obtaining, storing, and distributing personal data by using one’s official position, and 236(3) the illegal purchase and storage of firearms and ammunition, of the Criminal Code of Georgia. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the charges carry a prison sentence of four to seven years. 

It noted that during his time at the SSG from 2015 to 2018, Gogashvili exceeded his official authority by taking data out of the office for “personal purposes, and kept it in his home, some of which was disseminated publicly with the participation of Ioseb Gogashvili, which violated the constitutional rights of citizens causing significant damage. In addition, there was a threat of disclosure of state secrets.” 

The charges were filed following a search of his residence which revealed “secret state documents related to the activities of the State Security Service, [including] documents containing private and personal data, dozens of technical equipment, and illegal firearms.”

Nino Gogashvili, the daughter of Soso Gogashvili, said that “the Georgian dream, to be precise  Russian dream,  wants to take revenge on my father and keep silent. Because Ioseb Gogashvili fought against Russian rule.” Gogashvili’s wife, Tea Martkoflishvili, said that her husband is “a brave man, a hero and a political prisoner”.

The Tbilisi City Court ruled today to keep Gogashvili in jail as he undergoes a trial.

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