Mikheil Sarjveladze, the Chair of the Georgian Parliament's Committee on Human Rights, on Wednesday claimed the legal team of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s was working to “create impressions damaging the country's reputation” internationally, after the latest disclosure on the United States Department of Justice’s website of activities of a lobbying firm associated with the former official’s lawyers.
Published on Tuesday, the new information revealed the lobbying company Akerman had been involved in drawing up a draft resolution for the European Parliament that was critical of the Georgian Government around Saakashvili’s imprisonment, preparation of articles about the health condition of the former President for international media, and persuasion of US senators to pursue sanctions against Georgia over his alleged ill-treatment in detention.
In his remarks over the matter, Sarjveladze said public “agitation” around matters related to the former official stemmed from the lobbying activities.
Fortunately, there are tools like Foreign Agents Registration Act [US law], because nothing remains in the shadows, despite the efforts of some individuals who want to create false perceptions and to mislead the public. Fortunately, FARA and similar tools protect the public from misleading campaigns”, the Parliament official said.
“As for the new information, this is not the first case, but probably the most impressive part of the malicious activity that Saakashvili's entourage - [and] Saakashvili himself - is applying to create damaging impressions of the country's reputation in the international community and in friendly states”, he also alleged.
This is very regrettable and shows that the priority for these people is not the interest of the country but their own, very narrow, mercantile interests”, the Committee Chair added.
In her comments on the revelations, Saakashvili’s mother Giuli Alasania said the imprisoned former head of state’s team had “contracted a law firm [but] the relationship is already over”, adding she was “grateful” for the work done by Akerman for the team.
Saakashvili is currently serving a six-year-term for abuse of power while in office in two separate cases, while three other cases involving him are still pending. He was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021 after eight years abroad, following his clandestine return to Georgia ahead of domestic municipal elections.