Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili met in Kiev a group of Georgian lawmakers from UNM party, which he chairs, and said that the arrest of Gigi Ugulava, former mayor of Tbilisi, will damage Georgia’s interests.
Speaking at a meeting with over dozen of UNM lawmakers, among them leader of UNM parliamentary minority group Davit Bakradze, Saakashvili said that “manipulating” with judiciary and prosecution for political purposes is “short-sighted” and will “end up very badly for those who are doing it.”
Ugulava, one of UNM leaders and its campaign chief for the local elections which went into second round runoffs in number of localities including in Tbilisi, was arrested at the Tbilisi airport early on Thursday morning as he was going to take flight to Kiev. He faces money loudening charges. The arrest came about 12 hours after the court in Tbilisi turned down prosecution’s motion to seize his passport as investigators sought to prevent his travel abroad.
“They are wrong if someone thinks that Ugulava’s arrest will thwart certain political process or make breakthrough in elections or people will be frightened and they will make different choice,” Saakashvili said.
He said that such actions from the authorities will damage the country. “Georgia looks quite bad… No one acts like this in a modern, civilized world,” he said. “Of course no one is above the law, but replacing political process with manipulations of prosecution and judiciary is short-sighted and has a very bad ending.”
He called on UNM party “to be very calm, but mobilized” in order to show to the world that there is a political force in Georgia capable of “civilized political struggle, debates and campaigning.”
Saakashvili also said that UNM does not stand on separate individual political figures whether it’s him, Ugulava or any other UNM leader.
“People can replace each other, but this idea of Georgia’s progress and development cannot be stopped by these various manipulations and everyone will see it very soon; the sooner they [the Georgian authorities] understand it, the better for them and the country,” Saakashvili said.