Giga Bokeria, foreign secretary of UNM opposition party and former secretary of National Security Council (NSC), was questioned by prosecutors on April 4.
Prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Bokeria was summoned as a “witness” in connection to ongoing investigation into, as it put it, “misspending of large amount of budgetary funds” by the National Security Council.
Prosecutor’s office did not provide other details saying that the case is classified as “secret”.
Government officials have said for multiple times previously that law enforcement agencies were investigating foreign lobbying expenses under the previous administration, when lobbying contracts were mainly handled by the NSC; currently it is handled by PM’s office. Last year the government hired an influential Washington lobbying and law firm, Patton Boggs, for a monthly fee of USD 110,000.
Upon arrival at the prosecutor’s office Bokeria told journalists that so many of his political allies have been summoned by prosecutors for questioning and some have been arrested since Georgian Dream came into power, that he even felt awkward that it took so long for prosecutors to summon him.
Bokeria left the prosecutor’s office after about five hours and told journalists that he was questioned regarding the issue which “de facto Prime Minister Ivanishvili” has been speaking about for a long time already; he was referring to foreign lobbying expenses under the previous administration. He also expressed regret that political leadership of the country makes investigators “to waste their time, resources and energy on cases like this.”
Earlier on April 4 UNM opposition party said that summoning of Bokeria for questioning is continuation of the authorities’ campaign of political persecution of former government official and also aims at diverting public attention from two recent high-profile cases – death of a witness Shalva Tatukhashvili and attack on UNM lawmaker Nugzar Tsiklauri.
In a separate development, deputy chief prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze, said on April 3 that prosecutors will proceed with investigation of multiple criminal cases over which they unsuccessfully sought to question ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.
“The fact is that as a citizen Mr. Saakashvili did not comply with his obligation stipulated by the Georgian constitution and law and did not appear for questioning although we also offered him a remote interrogation [via video link],” deputy chief prosecutor told journalists on April 3. “So investigation will continue without Saakashvili’s questioning and we will try to obtain all the necessary evidence to establish objective truth in all those cases without his interrogation.”