Georgian Dream Lawmaker Says Swedish Ex-PM ‘Criminal’

Ruling Georgian Dream MP Irakli Zarkua today called former Swedish Prime Minister and ex-top diplomat Carl Bildt “a criminal.”

The lawmaker’s scathing remarks came in response to international criticism against Georgian authorities over the jailing of Nika Gvaramia, chief of major government-critical channel Mtavari Arkhi TV.

But it was not immediately clear why MP Zarkua opted to single out Carl Bildt, currently serving as the co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, who seemingly made no comments regarding Gvaramia’s imprisonment.

The Georgian Dream lawmaker said Mr. Bildt “lobbied the interests of criminal [ex-President Mikheil] Saakashvili for years.”

MP Zarkua’s remarks seemingly builds on claims voiced earlier by his party chair, MP Irakli Kobakhidze that “unsubstantiated” criticisms over the critical TV chief’s conviction are a “certain form of covering for a criminal.”

The former Swedish official has been a frequent critic of the Georgian Dream authorities, including recently over the treatment of imprisoned former President Saakashvili.

Back in 2014, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, Bildt accused the GD Government of “deviat[ing] from European path in using justice system for revenge” over bringing charges against Saakashvili. Then Georgian FM Maia Panjikidze retorted, saying “this is also to some extent a pressure on the judiciary and on the entire process”.

Carl Bildt served as Prime Minister of Sweden 1991-1994, and as its chief diplomat in 2006-2014. During his tenure as Foreign Minister, Sweden together with Poland led efforts to initiate the European Union’s Eastern Partnership platform with six eastern neighbors, including Georgia.

Civil Georgia has reached out to Mr. Bildt to respond to accusations. If provided, the response will be added to the news piece.

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