A former lawmaker, Valeri Gelbakhiani, who four years ago was charged with conspiring to overthrow government, was arrested on February 20 while trying to enter into Georgia from Armenia, the Georgian Interior Ministry said on Monday.
Gelbakhiani’s case is related to developments of late 2007 – amid political tensions in aftermath of November 7, 2007 break up of anti-government demonstrations and ahead of snap presidential elections in January, 2008. At the time Gelbakhiani led presidential election campaign of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died in February 2008. In December 2007 the law enforcement agencies released a covertly recorded footage claiming Gelbakhiani’s involvement in the plot aimed at overthrowing the government through stirring unrests following the presidential election.
After Gelbakhiani was stripped of his MP credentials, court ruled pre-trial detention for Gelbakhiani in his absence in early February, 2008; at the time Gelbakhiani was no longer in Georgia. Gelbakhiani was denying charges as politically-motivated.
MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), who before his political comeback in early 2008 was a key figure in Patarkatsishvili’s television station, said on Monday that Gelbakhiani was returning to Georgia in order to see his ailing mother in a hospital. MP Giorgi Targamadze said “there has been no reason” to arrest Gelbakhiani.
“He has not been convicted and he has been declaring his readiness to cooperate with investigation. This arrest is continuation of a political persecution against Gelbakhiani,” the CDM leader said.