GD MPs Hit out at Ukrainian Public Defender

Georgian Dream chair, MP Irakli Kobakhidze, and senior lawmakers Shalva Papuashvili and Irakli Kadagishvili today slammed Ukrainian public defender Lyudmyla Denisova, following her claim that Georgian authorities had violated the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture in treatment of jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Denisova arrived in Tbilisi on November 15, to visit Saakashvili, currently a citizen of Ukraine, and check on his health condition and treatment, following the ex-President’s transfer to the prison clinic against his will. The Justice Ministry refused Denisova from visiting Saakashvili earlier today.

Asked to comment on the refusal, MP Kobakhidze told journalists the Ukrainian public defender should instead pay attention to “tens of thousands of inmates” in Ukrainian prison.

The GD chair then criticized Saakashvili for “bothering over the years” Ukraine, and for what he called abusing his power during his presidency of Georgia. “This man is not a symbol of the institution of the President,” he argued, going on to compare Saakashvili to dictators Benito Mussolini of Italy and Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania.

Speaking about Denisova, MP Papuashvili, also the ruling party’s PR secretary, argued today that the Ukrainian Public Defender visited Georgia as a “private person” and not in her official capacity. He stressed the “jurisdiction of an ombudsman is limited to the country” in which they are appointed.

Meanwhile, MP Kadagishvili stated “Georgia is not a country [doormat] for everyone to wipe their feet on. Be it a Ukrainian MP or public defender, they have to respect the sovereignty of our country.”

He argued that Georgians should not let others use Georgia’s internal affairs for their political ends. “She has to address the state and go through the relevant procedures [to visit Saakashvili]. She should show appropriate respect to the Georgian state,” MP Kadagishvili said.

The Ukrainian public defender has said that the country’s embassy in Georgia had applied to the Justice Ministry to grant her access to Saakashvili. Justice Minister Rati Bregadze argued today “we are not obligated” by law to allow Denisova’s visit. He also cited as another reason for the refusal that the authorities are trying to “maximally protect” the health of hospitalized Saakashvili.

Georgia’s Imprisonment Code says that inmates who are foreign citizens have the right to an unlimited number of meetings with a representative of a diplomatic mission or a consular office of their home country, or with an authorized diplomatic representative who protected their country’s interests in Georgia.

Denisova arrived in Tbilisi on November 15. Earlier in October, she had paid a visit to the hunger-striking ex-President in Rustavi #12 penitentiary.

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