The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party chair Irakli Kobakhidze has appealed to the US embassy to the country to make a comment on the “speculations” by the opposition that the embassy removed judge Lasha Chkhikvadze from its funded programme following the latter sentenced the head of the opposition-minded Mtavari channel Nika Gvaramia in prison last week.
Kobakhidze said on Tuesday that what the opposition said was a “serious accusation towards the embassy of committing a crime and interfering in the Georgian judiciary.”
“The radical opposition with their affiliated media channels, with the help of the Public Defender’s Office and NGOs are engaged with an anti-Western campaign against Lasha Chkhikvadze, accusing American diplomats of criminal offenses,” Kobakhidze said.
He stated that exercising pressure on judges was a common practice under the United National Movement leadership, noting he was sure the US embassy “has not done anything illegal.”
"There is such an expression, everyone thinks in accordance with their own depravity. The radical opposition, with its internal and external allies, is behaving in exactly the same way, thinking that the US embassy would have behaved in the same way as they did,” Kobakhidze suggested.
Kobakhidze stated that he knew “even a negative answer to this question by the embassy could be embarrassing.”
“It would even be embarrassing for the US Embassy to say that it has not committed a crime, has not discriminated, has not interfered in the independence of the Georgian judiciary, and has not attempted informal governance. However, speculations are spreading and these speculations could be easily ended by one small statement from the US Embassy,” Kobakhidze added.
Gvaramia was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for abuse of power while managing Rustavi 2 TV channel which the convict said was a “politically grounded judgment.”
The opposition claimed that the judge of the case should have left for the US within the embassy-funded programme. However, he was removed from the list in the wake of the trial.