Additional criminal charges related to alleged misspending of public funds have been filed against Gigi Ugulava, former Tbilisi mayor and one of the leaders of UNM opposition party.
Finance Ministry’s investigations service said on June 30 that when serving as capital city’s mayor Ugulava in 2009 and 2011 “illegally” gave preferential treatment to a car parking management firm in Tbilisi, C.T.Park, in distribution of revenues received from fines, which, the investigations service said, resulted into misspending of “misspending” of GEL 1,086,718 (about USD 614,000) budgetary funds.
Ugulava, who is UNM’s campaign chief for the local elections, was interrogated by investigators on June 30; he was charged without being arrested.
Ugulava told journalists after he was questioned by investigators that it was yet another “absurd” and politically-motivated allegation against him. He said that these new charges are ruling Georgian Dream coalition’s “attempt to save politically dying” Davit Narmania, GD’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate, who will face UNM’s Nika Melia in the second round runoff.
Before the questioning he said that his summoning for interrogation was a violation of moratorium declared by the government on legal proceedings against political figures involved in the local elections campaigning.
UNM, which says that charges represent continuation of politically-motivated prosecution of the opposition, plans a protest rally outside the government chancellery in Tbilisi later on Monday afternoon; UNM said “towards Europe without political persecutions” will be the slogan of the planned rally.
Ugulava is already standing trial into alleged case of misspending and embezzlement of large amount of public funds and money laundering into two separate cases; those charges were filed against him in February, 2013.
Separate charges involving alleged misspending of GEL 48 million of public funds in 2011-2011 were filed against Ugulava in December, 2013; after these charges were brought against him, the Tbilisi City Court ordered his suspension from the post of the Tbilisi mayor, but the Constitutional Court found the decision unconstitutional. Although initially Ugulava appealed the court with a motion to reinstate him on the post of the mayor, he withdrew the motion earlier this week.