MP Ana Buchukuri of former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party accused on August 18 the Georgian Dream government of carrying out “large-scale” politically motivated persecutions and addressing “blackmail”, “threats” and “dismissals” against their party supporters. Buchukuri noted that the authorities arrested their party supporter through planting firearms.
MP Buchukuri said police stopped their supporter Akaki Bartaia on August 16 and planted firearms in his car. She noted that police used force to take a saliva sample from Bartaia’s mouth causing him injuries. “It makes us suppose that they needed this biological sample as DNA evidence,” she stressed.
The lawmaker asserted that the government will try to justify this “shameful fact” by the bail imposed on Bartaia in connection with a separate case and use it as a compromising material. “But it will not cover up the fact that they planted firearms in Bartaia’s car and arrested him on political grounds,” she added.
Ana Buchukuri also recalled that Bartaia “is a victim of the regime of the [United] National Movement,” noting that he was of the victims into the high profile Buta Robakidze case and “the Strasbourg-based court confirmed it by its ruling.”
“Regrettably, the ruling party is crossing all red lines to maintain power, using the methods it fought against in 2011-2012 together with Georgian people. But it will not frighten our team and supporters… It is a temporary development that is the beginning of the end of their rule,” Buchukuri told TV Pirveli.
The Georgian Interior Ministry told Civil.ge that investigation has been launched under Articles 236 and 353 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving illegal purchase, storage and carrying of firearms and resistance, threat or violence against a police officer.
Tbilisi City Court has sentenced Akaki Bartaia to pretrial custody.
Earlier on August 16, another member of Gakharia’s party, former security official Kakhaber Kemoklidze also spoke about surveillance by the government. Kemoklidze uploaded photo and video materials on Facebook, purporting to show that law enforcement / security officers were tracking them during a campaign meetings in Kakheti.
The ruling party denied accusations as “unconvincing”, saying that Gakharia’s team is trying “to attract attention” and occupy “a political niche.” “We do not use such methods to approach anyone,” Georgian Dream MP Mikheil Sarjveladze told reporters yesterday.
Giorgi Gakharia resigned as Prime Minister on February 18 over the detention of top opposition leader Nika Melia, and inaugurated a new political party in late May. Several lawmakers and officials quit the ruling party to join his team.
According to the recent public opinion poll, commissioned by the International Republican Institute, ex-PM Giorgi Gakharia is the third most favorable public figure (56%), following Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II (88%) and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze (58%). His party has the highest support (9%) following Georgian Dream (28%) and National Movement (15%).