President Salome Zurabishvili held an impromptu press briefing today after she was hustled while trying to speak with protesters at her official residence. The protesters, some of who were close relatives of the inmates during Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, were urging Zurabishvili not to pardon ailing Saakashvili. The calls for pardon and subsequent transfer for treatment abroad have grown louder recently, as Saakashvili’s health condition has reportedly worsened.
President Zurabishvili bristled against the pressure from the majority party, “Georgian Dream” and condemned the political games around Saakashvili’s health condition from both them and the United National Movement (UNM). She said the issue is “drowning out” all other matters, undermining Georgia’s European future.
Here are some of the quotes from her discourse:
- Pressure emanates from “those people, that party, whose leaders were nowhere to be seen in 2007”, when “we were jointly fighting against criminal and unjust regime of Misha Saakashvili.” Those people, said Zurabishvili, are “fighting Saakasvhili now when he has already fallen”, whereas in 2007 they “were sitting comfortably.”
- In an apparent response to Kakha Kaladze, the mayor of Tbilisi and one of the leaders of the GD, who recently declared that Zurabishvili’s career would suffer greatly if Saakashvili were to be pardoned by her, Zurabishvili said she “left her career [in France]” and only cares for Georgia’s “European future”.
- Speaking of pardons, Zurabishvili lashed out at the ruling party “who pardoned [Levan]] Murusidze and [Mikheil] Chinchaladze? […] The political force that is trying to teach me a lesson today has not only pardoned them but put them in places where they are unimpeachable and where they effectively block our path to Europe.” Murusidze and Chinchaladze were judges in high-profile cases linked to prisoners’ abuse in the Saakashvili administration, but have advanced during the current government. Murusidze was appointed to the High Council of Justice. Chinchaladze heads the Tbilisi Appeals Court.
- Zurabishvili said GD and UNM are working in concert so that “for almost a year we are completely blocked in this discussion, debate, fight around Misha [Saakashvili] There is no other topic, there is no way to advance any other issue. The country is drowning in this issue and both political sides benefit.” She said UNM has no other plans to begin with, while GD has apparently “no answers to the questions that society should be posing to the government.”
- President said both GD and UNM are “fighting” against Georgia’s European future “without noticing that our society wants this [future].” She pledged to “advance on this path, notwithstanding pressure and blackmail”.
- She said she was being “bullied” and “pressured” both “as an institution, and as a woman” and said CSOs are failing to show her adequate support.
- Responding to a direct question, of whether she intended to pardon Saakashvili, President responded “the main question will be answered, when it will be answered.”
- 22/12/2022 – No Decision on Enfeebled Saakashvili’s Release Plea
- 25/10/2022 – Civil Society: Murusidze-Gvritishvili’s Return Strengthens ‘Judicial Clan’