On July 30, the Tbilisi City Court sentenced Giorgi Rurua, one of the shareholders of pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, charged with illegal purchase, storage and carrying firearms, to four years in prison.
Rurua, arrested on November 18, and sent to pretrial custody on November 20, denies all charges against him and considers himself “a political prisoner.”
Giorgi Rurua, who is a brother of late Nika Rurua, a former member of the United National Movement, ex-Minister of Culture under former President Saakashvili, owns 2.5% of Mtavari Arkhi’s shares since September 24. He bought the shares from a 49% shareholder at GEL 2,500 on the condition of investing USD 250,000 in the TV channel.
Slamming the decision, Rurua’s defense lawyer Dimitri Sadzaglishvili said they expected the ruling from judge Valerian Bugianishvili as the latter “follows political orders” of the Government.
Sadzaglishvili said Rurua’s defense lawyers will now challenge the ruling in the Appeals Court.
“Although we have no trust towards the Appeals Court either, as we expect the justices obeying Bidzina Ivanishvili’s [ruling Georgian Dream party chairman] there too, it is our responsibility as the defense side to exhaust all the [legal] remedies at our disposal,” he added.
The prosecutors did not comment on the ruling today.
Rurua’s supporters and major opposition parties say Mtavari Arkhi’s shareholder is facing criminal prosecution for his ties with the pro-opposition TV channel, as well as for his financial support towards last year’s anti-occupation rallies in Tbilisi that had an anti-government tenor.
The fate of Rurua has been a major stumbling point for the March 8 electoral reform deal between the Georgian opposition and ruling parties.
Opposition parties alleged that the release of Rurua, along with two other “political prisoners” Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, has been a part of the foreign-mediated deal with the Georgian Dream party.
The ruling party denied the claims, saying it had not – in any form – committed itself to the release of “political prisoners.”
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