Ruling party MP claims Lelo for Georgia opposition party leader “lobbying against Georgian interests”

  • Mdinaradze claimed the United National Movement and Lelo for Georgia had “acted together to damage the country’s interest”. Photo: Georgian Dream press office, 14 Nov 2023 - 18:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the head of the Georgian Dream ruling party in the Parliament, on Tuesday claimed opposition leader Mamuka Khazaradze and his party Lelo for Georgia were “lobbying against the country’s interests”. 

The comment comes after Khazaradze told Voice of America last week, following meetings in the United States, that he "[did] not want to wish anyone to be sanctioned [in Georgia], but when it comes to our country and national interest, all methods are welcome".

Commenting on the interview, Mdinaradze said the United National Movement - the largest opposition group in the legislative body - and Lelo for Georgia had “acted together to damage the country’s interest” and “hamper” its European integration through “hiring of foreign lobbyists” and through own efforts. 

In his comments, Khazaradze also said while he would refrain from naming people in Georgia he allegedly wished to see sanctioned, American officials were “well-aware about the situation” in his country and the role of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of GD and the former Prime Minister, who has been labelled a “shadow ruler” by domestic opposition members. 

The remarks come after GD and Government officials earlier this year highlighted a disclosure of the US-based law firm Akerman with the country’s Department of Justice, which showed it had been hired to lobby for the release of the imprisoned former President of Georgia and UNM founder Mikheil Saakashvili.

The Georgian officials alleged the documents “proved” Saakashvili had “paid for” European Parliament resolutions calling for his release, and for lobbying efforts for sanctions to be placed on the Georgian Government for his alleged ill-treatment in detention.

The most recent information in July revealed the firm had been involved in drawing up a draft resolution for the EP that was critical of the Georgian Government around Saakashvili’s imprisonment. It was also involved in drafting of articles about the health condition of the former President for international media, and persuasion of US senators and communications with United Kingdom officials for pursuing sanctions against Georgia over his treatment in detention.