Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili today announced that she will pardon Giorgi Rurua, a shareholder of pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, sentenced to prison in July of last year if the ruling party and opposition agree to reach a compromise over Georgia’s ongoing political crisis.
The President’s announcement comes as the ruling Georgian Dream party said it will sign the new compromise proposal put forward by European Council President Charles Michel, which envisages addressing “cases of perceived politicized justice,” including that of Giorgi Rurua, and opposition United National Movement Chairman Nika Melia. Earlier today, the Georgian Dream said it would abstain from being critical if the Georgian President decides to pardon Rurua as part of the agreement, thereby greenlighting the move.
In her announcement, President Zurabishvili was audibly irate at the ruling party, which, she said “uses my name over and over again without my permission and consent” when linking pardon to political negotiation with the opposition. She said the decision to pardon “is not subject to pressure, to instructions or demands, whether they may be from the opposition, the ruling party,” or – she added possibly alluding to the mediators – “anyone else”.
President said she does not think Giorgi Rurua, “who can be called many things, but not a political prisoner,” due to his “well-known past” deserves pardoning, though noted that ending the political crisis, and concerns for the country’s stability take higher priority than her “personal views.” President remarked, “with that in mind, I am ready to make a decision scandalous also for myself”.
She also stressed that her decision will only come in effect after political parties sign the new EU compromise proposal, enter Parliament, and after representatives of the EU and U.S. announce that an agreement has been reached. “Within a week after this announcement, I will sign the act of pardon,” the President concluded.
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