US Congressmen on Arrest of Georgian Opposition Leader

US Congressman Adam Kinzinger has responded to the arrest of Gigi Ugulava, one of the leaders of the opposition in Georgia.

“Gigi Ugulava, leader of European Georgia, was arrested today and sentenced to 38 months in prison for an old crime he’s already served time over. To say this is disturbing would be an understatement. Using courts as a weapon is NOT a deumocracy,” Kinzinger tweeted.

Jim Risch, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also responded to Ugulava's arrest. 

“I'm disappointed Georgia has chosen to increase its politically motivated abuse of opposition politicians. As I told the Georgian foreign minister last week, the collapse of judicial independence & persecution of the opposition is unacceptable behavior,” Risch  tweeted.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court found Gigi Ugulava guilty of embezzling funds, in particular, GEL 48 million, and sentenced him to three years in prison.

The Court satisfied the prosecution's motion, according to which, Ugulava embezzled funds from the Tbilisi Development Fund, a non-commercial legal entity founded by the City Hall, the purpose of which is to preserve the historic look of the City and promote the growth of real estate value.

"If prison is a path to freedom, I am ready to go to prison for the third time," the leader of the European Georgia party, Gigi Ugulava, answered the Supreme Court's decision regarding his imprisonment. 

He added that the verdict against him was issued not by the Supreme Court but by personally Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream. 

"It is an unfair and politically motivated decision, and it was personally taken by Ivanishvili, which was executed by the judges who did not even have time to study the case”, Ugulava said, adding that he had expected the guilty verdict.

He claimed out the unity of the opposition scares Bidzina Ivanishvili, which is the reason behind the decision.

The opposition leader was initially arrested in July 2014 for the misappropriation of funds and embezzlement. He was sentenced to a seven-month pre-trial detention. After this, in September 2015, he was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison. This prison term was commuted to four years and six months.

On January 4th, the Appellate Court re-qualified the article and his sentence was shortened by three years and three months. 

He was released from prison on January 6, 2017, on the basis of a verdict by the Tbilisi Appellate Court. 

By Ana Dumbadze 

Related Story: Gigi Ugulava: If Prison is a Path to Freedom, I'm Ready

11 February 2020 11:02