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Opposition MPs and Speaker in Dispute over Restrictions on Saakashvili’s Visit

On October 30, the issue of restriction imposed on visiting ex -President Mikheil Saakashvili led to a row between opposition MPs Tina Bokuchava and Iago Khvichia, on the one side and Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili, on the other, during a meeting of the Parliament’s Bureau.

Tina Bokuchava, chair of the United National Movement parliamentary faction, stated: “Your decision to single-handedly deny all MPs the opportunity to visit President Saakashvili, who is a political prisoner of Ivanishvili’s regime, is completely unjustified and illegal. We have repeatedly appealed to you, on behalf of all opposition MPs, and this is not only a demand of the “National Movement”. President Saakashvili is Ivanishvili’s main political opponent, and personal communication with him is important for MPs. You have no legal basis [for this]. We understand that you are following Ivanishvili’s wishes without any objection, but no Chairman of the Parliament, even during the “Georgian Dream” government, made such illegal and draconian decisions as you are making. Please explain Ivanishvili’s slavish obedience, how do you justify that you are denying MPs the opportunity to visit President Saakashvili”?

Iago Khvichia, the representative of the “Girchi” party, noted that Mikheil Saakashvili’s appearances at recent court hearings show that he is ready to return to politics and play an active political role. He noted that therefore the MPs must have the opportunity to hold discussions with him, adding: “Your restriction is an obstacle to the activity of the MP and the political process… Mikheil Saakashvili is the real leader and sole ruler of the “National Movement”. If we want to have a normal electoral environment, it is important for a healthy political process to have a political discussion with this person and to listen to his position”.

Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili brushed off the concerns about the restrictions, saying: “This [right to visit] is an opportunity to know the conditions of the prisoner, although this opportunity was being actually used for [political] rendezvous”. Papuashvili noted that the right to visit the prisoner is regulated by law and that “the goodwill of the Speaker of the Parliament has been abused.”

Commenting on the ex-president’s political activity, the Speaker of Parliament noted that he is not a Georgian citizen and therefore “has no right to be a member or leader of any political party”, saying that as a foreign citizen he serves the interests of a foreign country.

“Entering a prison without a special permission is the authority of the Speaker of Parliament, and if he deems it necessary, he can delegate this right to an MP. While Mikheil Saakashvili’s health was an issue, these permits were issued. However, we have seen that this has worsened the prisoner’s condition and has been used for the purpose of a [political] rendezvous instead of knowing his condition,” – said Papuashvili.

Noting that family members, lawyers, public defenders and doctors have full access to Saakashvili, the Speaker noted that there is no need to check the former president’s conditions and that the ECHR has proved that he is being treated with proper methods, which is now proven by “his appearance”.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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