Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili today pardoned Giorgi Rurua, a shareholder of pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV, whose release was one of the clauses in the April 19 EU-brokered deal.
After a group of opposition lawmakers entered the Georgian Parliament earlier today, President Zurabishvili welcomed the fulfillment of the first stage of the agreement. “On my part, I kept my word and signed the act of pardon,” she highlighted.
The Georgian President had announced previously that she would pardon Rurua, regarded by the opposition as a “political prisoner,” provided the parties came to a compromise in the EU-mediated talks. However, she said the decision would come into effect once the parties entered the Parliament.
“I had nothing to be pardoned for,” Rurua said upon leaving prison, adding that the “authorities corrected the crime” of imprisoning him in the first place with the act of pardon. He said he was “offered to be pardoned and to confess” last year following the foreign-facilitated March 8 agreement, but refused because he does not view himself to be guilty.
The Mtavari Arkhi TV shareholder said “it is important that the second half [of the agreement] be fulfilled and that Nika Melia leave illegal detention for the [political] crisis to be overcome.” “If I were in Nika’s place I would accept the EU bail,” Rurua went on, adding that he thinks the United National Movement should enter Parliament despite flaws in the EU-brokered deal.
Rurua’s release was one of the key demands of the opposition since his arrest in November 2019 on firearms charges and subsequent sentencing to four years in prison. Opposition leaders argued his release along with Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili was initially envisaged in the foreign-facilitated March 8 agreement, which included a clause on addressing “actions that could be perceived as inappropriate politicization of Georgia’s judicial and electoral processes.”
Giorgi Rurua owns a 2.5% stake in Mtavari Arkhi since September 24, 2019.