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Political Row Continues over Controversial Presidential Pardons

President Giorgi Margvelashvili and lawmakers from the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition European Georgia parties have exchanged sharp accusations over the controversial presidential pardoning practices.

Critical remarks against the President emerged last week, shortly after the Interior Ministry confirmed that Vepkhia Bakradze, the suspect in the murder of a 25-year-old woman in Tbilisi on April 13, was released upon Margvelashvili’s pardon a year ago. 

Responding to the criticism of the ruling and the opposition parties on April 16, Giorgi Abashishvili, head of the President’s Administration, said the two parties were conducting a concerted campaign against Giorgi Margvelashvili.

“The process of establishing a new constitutional majority in the Parliament is underway with the participation of the European Georgia and the Georgian Dream parties, and it is very regretful that the key factor uniting them is the ongoing dirty campaign against the President,” Abashishvili stated.

MPs from the Georgian Dream (GD) and the European Georgia (EG) parties responded with counter-accusations.

GD’s Anri Okhanashvili said the President’s claims were “absurd.” “Their primary objective is to divert the negative public attention that followed the President’s irresponsible and harmful pardoning decisions.”

EG’s Irma Nadirashvili said the President’s response to their “legitimate” criticism, was “inadequate and hysterical.” “Trying to escape from responsibility, when the woman is already dead and when we know previous cases of repeat crimes by those pardoned by Margvelashvili, is not right and is more disgraceful than his [recent] decision to promulgate the constitution.”

Giorgi Abashishvili commented on the developments today, stressing that “practically entire state apparatus, together with the two parties, has been involved in the ongoing PR campaign against the President of Georgia.” “It would be better, if the state institutions addressed the crime rates and prevented such tragic incidents from happening again,” he said.

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