The ruling Georgian Dream party and the Georgian Government face accusations of politically motivated prosecution from the opposition following the Tbilisi City Court’s sentencing of Mtavari Arkhi TV Director Nika Gvaramia to 3.5 years.
Denying the allegations, Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee MP Mikheil Sarjveladze acknowledged that Gvaramia’s case was “sensitive” in the political context, but argued this did not mean he was “politically persecuted.”
“If there is a crime, whether it is committed by a politician or whoever, they shall be held responsible,” MP Sarjveladze added.
He further claimed that people leading the government-critical TV stations — Mtavari Arkhi, Formula and TV Pirveli — are in “some form” connected to the United National Movement, under whose administration “you would be sent to Siberia for a crime of this severity.”
Opposition Decries Gvaramia’s Imprisonment
Nika Melia, Chair of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party argued that Gvaramia had fallen victim to “oligarch” Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder of the Georgian Dream.
He claimed that in the fight “to justly take back a captured state, our distinguished fighters” are periodically unlawfully imprisoned.
“But the aim to become a full-fledged member of the free world is so large, that for the goal it is worth it to sacrifice the most precious thing a person has,” the UNM chair argued.
Opposition Lelo party meanwhile stated that Gvaramia’s sentencing was a “message of [Georgian Dream Government’s] establishment of total control over free media.”
It argued that the GD Government is “intolerant” of critical media outlets and “afraid” of media pluralism in the country.
The party asserted in its statement that Gvaramia’s sentencing will be a “severe hindrance” to Georgia’s path toward EU membership candidacy as well.
Strategy Aghmashenebeli chair MP Giorgi Vashadze said the charges against Gvaramia were “absurd” and the case was “entirely politically motivated.”
He suggested that the Georgian Dream might be using Gvaramia’s incarceration as bargaining leverage with its Western partners.
MP Vashadze argued however that the public will “in the near future see that [the GD Government] has completely gone off the course of Western and Euro-Atlantic integration.”
European Georgia part chair Giga Bokeria said that the GD Government tried to “demonstrate its power” with the incarceration of Gvaramia. “Instead of returning to the free world, [the country] is moving toward the consolidation of a Putinist, oligarchic, autocratic regime.”
- Gov’t-Critical TV Chief Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison
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- Prosecution to Charge Gvaramia over Abuse of Power