Opposition Leaders Arrested in Georgia

May 22nd, 2013   Georgia | News

The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday that they have arrested two leading politicians from the opposition, UNM’s General Secretary Ivane Merabishvili, who in 2012 was the country’s Prime Minister, and before that Minister of Interior Affairs and Zurab Chiaberashvili, former Minister for Health and Social Affairs and the President’s representative in the Kakheti region.

“To arrest one’s political opponents is an approach not coherent with the rule of law,” sais the Swedish MP and board member of the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, Christian Holm, in a comment. “It’s important that the international community reacts and indicates that such behavior is unacceptable. The international leaders who supported Ivanishvili’s campaign for Prime Minister should feel a responsibility to put pressure for a continued democratic development in Georgia.”

The two politicians are accused of having employed political activists in government programs prior to the parliamentary elections in October last year. Merabishvili will also be charged for the police violence that took place in connection with a demonstration in May 2011.

The arrests raise concerns about the political developments in Georgia. The new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili from the coalition Georgian Dream, has several times stated that more arrests of UNM’s politicians are expected.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (UNM), whose term will end later this year, compares the situation with the developments in Ukraine, where Viktor Yanukovych after winning the presidential election in 2011 imprisoned his main political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. Saakashvili argues that the arrests will threaten Georgia’s ambition for membership in NATO and the EU.


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