US embassy ‘disappointed’ that opposition leader’s arrest put election talks at risk

The US embassy was one of those which has mediated an 2020  election-related dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition. Photo: KCCT., 11 Feb 2020 - 16:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

The US embassy to Georgia has reported that they are disappointed that the timing and context of the conviction and sentencing of an opposition leader Gigi Ugulava yesterday has put the election dialogue between opposition parties and the ruling Georgian Dream party at risk.

An environment conducive to the successful continuation of the dialogue requires an independent, transparent judicial system free of political influence. We call on all sides to remain committed to the political dialogue, as well as further refinements to the electoral code, as the best way to create the conditions for free and fair elections,” the embassy said. 

Ugulava, who was the ex-Tbilisi mayor under the United National Movement leadership and now a current leader of the European Georgia opposition party, has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison for embezzlement of 48 million state funds while in office. 

The opposition has suspended 2020 election-related negotiations with the ruling party because of the ‘politically motivated detention.’ 

The ruling party says that there is ‘no political persecution in the country and if somebody commits a crime he must be held accountable.’