Georgian President pardons opposition politicians Ugulava, Okruashvili to avoid 'endangering election agreement'

  • President Zurabishvili said she is not pardoning Ugulava and Okruashvili as ‘political prisoners’, as Georgia does not have any political prisoners, rather, she said. her decision aims to put an end to speculations around this issue, which are ‘discrediting the country’. Photo: Mzia Saganelidze/RFERL

Agenda.ge, 15 May 2020 - 21:25, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced today that she is pardoning Georgian opposition politicians Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, which she said was ‘a very difficult decision’.

Salome Zurabishvili said although she is very well aware of the ‘real actions and crimes’ of the two former officials, Ugulava and Okruashvili, nevertheless, as the president, she is pardoning them for the sake of 'the country’s interests’. 

Georgia will hold fair and democratic elections and no one can hinder that”, Zurabishvili stated in her video address earlier today. 

Calling Ugulava and Okruashvili ‘political prisoners’, opposition parties demanded their release. Otherwise, they said they would not vote for the election bill. 

On March 8 the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition agreed to hold the upcoming parliamentary elections this October with 120 seats in the legislative body to be distributed via a proportional vote and the remaining 30 via the majoritarian system.

President Zurabishvili said she is not pardoning Ugulava and Okruashvili as ‘political prisoners’, as Georgia does not have any political prisoners, rather, she said, her decision aims to put an end to speculations around this issue, which are ‘discrediting the country’.

A criminal remains a criminal... Pardoning does not mean justifying an offender!” President Zurabishvili said. 

Zurabishvili said although Georgia is ‘such a democratic, free and stable’ country nowadays, it might be facing a ‘political crisis’, as the opposition is ‘trying to manipulate, cause disorder, move the processes out to the street and provoke destabilisation’ ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections 

I can’t allow the situation to escalate because of the two criminals. I cannot allow new polarisation and controversy. I cannot allow the agreement recognised by the international community not to be implemented because of them”, President Zurabishvili said.

Otherwise, she said, the country will not be able to deal either with the coronavirus, or the economic and social challenges.  

Former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who is currently an opposition European Georgia member was sentenced to three years and two months in prison for the embezzlement of 48 million GEL from the Tbilisi Municipal Development Fund while in office.

Former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who currently chairs the opposition party For a Victorious Georgia, was earlier sentenced to five years in prison for participating in group violence during the June 20 rally in front of the parliament of Georgia last year.

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