Parliament Speaker Talakvadze: ‘If a US mayor embezzled 10% of a city’s budget, would he be a political prisoner?’

  • Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze has responded to statements made by the US legislators on Georgia’s election agreement. Photo: Parliament of Georgia press office., 13 May 2020 - 15:47, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze has responded to the statement of US Senator James Risch on an agreement between the ruling party and the opposition, stating that there are no political prisoners in Georgia. 

Yesterday Risch urged political parties in Georgia to ‘fully implement’ the March 8 election agreement, ‘including the release of political prisoners and progress towards a new electoral system.’ 

The Georgian opposition claims that alongside the electoral model for the 2020 parliamentary elections, the ruling party also accepted the release of former Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili and a co-owner of one of the opposition-minded TV channels in Georgia Giorgi Rurua. 

Talakvadze says that the ruling party had made no such promise as it would be unacceptable and undemocratic and would amount to interference in a judicial issue.

In his statement Mr. Risch calls upon political parties and not only the ruling party to fully abide by the agreement. As for mentioning political prisoners,  I can say that there are no political prisoners in Georgia. If a mayor of the US capital embezzled the 10 per cent of the city’s budget, would he be a political prisoner?” Talakvadze told Rustavi 2. 

He said that Risch is a friend of Georgia and he will be fully informed regarding the issue. 

Talakvadze also responded to US Congressman Adam Kinzinger by saying that the congressman simply expressed his hope that the agreement will be fulfilled. 

Talakvadze stated that the recently released text by the foreign ambassadors who mediated the election talks in Georgia ‘should be read as it is written (without looking for some subcontext). 

The ambassadors said in a joint statement yesterday that ‘we note that this agreement is composed of two parts — one focused on the election system and the other on addressing the appearance of political interference in the judicial system. We call upon all sides to uphold the letter and spirit of both parts of the agreement.” 

Talakvadze says that the ‘appearance of political interference’ does not mean that the interference really takes place.