After prolonged political tensions, the government has reached an agreement with the so-called United Opposition and was able to reconcile positions on a number of issues; influential Western leaders involved in the process have cited several circumstances as a test of agreement, including the termination of “political persecution” against opponents, the creation of a “fair political environment” and the release of Gigi Ugulava. Moreover, soon after the agreement was reached, 11 members of European Parliament wrote a lengthy letter to President Salome Zurabishvili, stating that it is impossible to de-escalate the situation in the country while Ugulava remains in custody.
However, after this letter, the ruling team received an even tougher message from the Vice President of the European People’s Party. Siegfried Muresan has already started speaking to the media about the sanctions, adding that if the government does not cease “political persecution” in the near future, which should be confirmed by the immediate release of Ugulava, each person who creates this tension will be held accountable. However, the vice president did not specify what kind of political punishment could be imposed on disobedient authorities who do not perform the “test of agreement” thoroughly and are in no hurry to release Ugulava.
Why is the release of Gigi Ugulava charged with the embezzlement of 48 million GEL today a “Test of Georgian Democracy” and what punitive actions can the country expect to face if he (the offender) is not released? – Nana Kakabadze, a lawyer and human rights defender, speaks with “Georgia and the World”.
– Ms. Nana, members of European Parliament have already publicly stated that the test of the government’s compliance with the agreement with the opposition will be the release of offender Gigi Ugulava. In effect, we are told that unless Ugulava is released immediately, the agreement will not be considered as fulfilled, which is a huge blow to Georgian democracy. What does this rhetoric mean, what is the message for Georgia?
– First of all, I can hardly remember a critical and troubling time for our country as it is now. US and European officials, unfortunately, no longer see Georgia as an independent, sovereign state. The rhetoric that Ugulava should be immediately released from custody and his release is a test of Georgian democracy is a medieval approach to the colony.
As for the question, what does this mean for Georgia, I think, first of all, it is a clear message to the citizens of Georgia that they are not asked what kind of state they want. In my opinion, since we were granted independence and recognized as independent on paper, Georgia has not been more insulted. This is a straightforward statement that one offender Ugulava is more important for a civilized world rather than a whole Georgia. In my opinion, therefore, all decent citizens, and especially those who have fought for independence for many years, including during the Soviet Union, must stand up; Big and small must come out to defend their dignity, because it is already a matter of national dignity. Otherwise we will remain in this slavish, abusive state and, no matter how much we claim to be an independent country, this independence will in fact remain a piece of paper.
– What is needed to stop certain Western forces from interfering in Georgia’s domestic affairs once and for all?
– I did not live in the 30s and 40s of the last century, but I lived in the 70s and I want to tell you that during Brezhnev’s rule there was no overt interference in Georgian politics as it is today. We are already in a state of political terror and dictatorship carried out by outside forces declared to be a strategic partner. By the way, the fact that the diplomatic corps in Georgia does not respond to the insistence of some Western officials to release Ugulava immediately, I think, is a very bad signal. This is a sign that there is an agreement on inviolability of the National Movement. I call the “National Movement” the United Opposition, which consists of 22 parties.
Now what to do. First, a group of people should be identified who will analyze the situation and provide information to the public. This is necessary for people to know what the purpose of all this is and what the results may be in the near future.
– But does society still see the West’s blatant interference in Georgia’s domestic affairs?
– I can’t agree with you. Our society today is in a complete information vacuum. Because the media is extremely polarized politically. As far as awareness is concerned, I think we should be in the same situation as we were in the 1990s, when the national movement started and we were preparing for independence. Although we did not get real independence back then, we still do not have it, but today the national self-awareness of the society must be exactly the same. I repeat: the Democratic West, which Georgia calls a friend and partner today, is telling through some senior officials that it does not need justice, does not need to punish criminals, and must do that it dictates, even if that dictates the release of the embezzler of 48 million GEL. The Georgian people did not fight and did not shed blood on April 9for such a state. We need a new national liberation movement today that will say out loud that Georgia is not a colony.
-Do you see the prospect of such a movement in today’s situation?
– I am convinced of one thing, and probably everyone can see it clearly: today in Georgia the authorities, especially the opposition, do nothing to protect our national dignity, national honor and even formal independence. I repeat: On April 9, and afterwards people were not killed to let foreigners dictate the court in independent Georgia. No state on the earth, no matter how large it may be on the map of the world, has no right to speak to us with the rhetoric of colonialism. As for the perspective, I think the only determinant of that perspective today is society. If society allows us to be under the political dictatorship of the West, then this dictatorship will take on an even more offensive and boisterous form. However, I am convinced that these processes will slowly lead to a stir in our society. Although objective media are virtually non-existent and people are in fact in an information vacuum, some parts of the population still perceive processes as objective.
We made a mistake from the very beginning when we did not observe Western colonial policy and did not launch a large-scale public protest. One reflection of this colonialist policy in its time, for example, was that certain diplomatic services began to hint at the immunity of the “National Movement” after the change of government. I even don’t want to speak about Saakashvili being declared a victim of political persecution and loading the government with the legal complexes …
– Isn’t the fault of the authorities, in some ways, that the country is actually being run from abroad and that the judiciary has no opportunity to prosecute criminals?
– Of course, this is the result of the deception of the government, its dishonesty and the failure to restore justice. The state practically merged with criminal political entities. However, they failed to take into account one thing: cooperating with criminals in any form, at the expense of disregarding the interests of the people, always leads to serious backlash. This is what the “Georgian Dream” actually got, and the terror that is being carried out by Western forces today is an expression of that.
As for society, of course, we are all punished and victimized, but there is still room for improvement, I think. I repeat, today we have to defend our national dignity, honor, and self-esteem, belittled and belittled by Western patrons of Saakashvili’s bloody regime. If we do not stand up for it, these people will go even further. Believe me, they will go so far as to actually want the “National Movement” back in power, and the politically enslaved and sold-out government will be involved in the process … By the way, I would like to ask these “Western friends”- when you call on the authorities to stop “persecution” of their opponents, and say that court should be free from political effect, how can this be reached when you threatenthe president with sanctions in the event of failure to pardon Ugulava?!
Isn’t it a political effect to demand the release of a man accused of embezzling 48 millions?! This is their double standard, and when I talk about public awareness, I mean unvailing this double standard. Everyone should know that in case of Western “partners” we are dealing with typical ideological-political invaders that are not remembered by Georgia in the near and distant past. If we do not fight for real independence, our prospects are zero, we will always remain a colony that will only have independence only on the piece of paper…
Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania