The so-much worsening condition of the currently imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili is a “crime committed against the country” by a “non-state-minded” government, Tatia Dolidze, Georgia’s former youth delegate to the United Nations and professor at European University told Front News on Thursday.
She stressed the recent release of footage depicting Saakashvili’s condition in the Vivamedi civilian clinic in Tbilisi - where the former official has been undergoing treatment since May - by the country’s justice ministry, was “unacceptable”, no matter of political beliefs.
“Explaining the move by a high-public interest is intolerable. The footage showed the person’s [Saakashvili] current condition is complicated and if the authorities fail to respond to his needs properly, this also works against them”, Dolidze said and noted the publication of the footage was “completely unethical and illegal” without the consent of the convicted former top official.
Front News: How can the government’s reaction be explained in light of the recent resolution of the European Parliament [which has called for Saakashvili’s release on medical grounds]?
Tatia Dolidze: The resolution includes direct calls for the release of both Saakashvili and Nika Gvaramia [a convicted head of the opposition-minded Mtavari channel]. It also urges president Salome Zourabichvili [to use her constitutional right] to take concrete steps [and pardon the individuals]. However, she has been unable to take a responding move so far. As for the authorities, their response was that they need not the Europe, which makes such decisions.
Front News: Is it possible for the court to grant Saakashvili’s release on medical grounds or postpone the rest of his sentence?
Tatia Dolidze: It is hard to say. During the recent trial hearing [on Wednesday] a judge said the court was ready to allow Saakashvili’s online engagement in the process, but the State Penitentiary Service was unable to ensure a video link. The statement [by the judge] shows the court can not take the responsibility and is likely waiting for a political decision by one person. What is obvious now is that the current authorities are sticking to their policy - instead of moving towards Europe, we have heard Russia has plans to lift a visa regime with Georgia for the country’s “correct decisions”. Such statements raise questions that the current authorities lack clear foreign policy goals.
Front News: The pressure by the west seems to further trigger ant-western sentiments in the current government. What can be a solution?
Tatia Dolidze: The anti-western propaganda by the current authorities is likely to strengthen as the west will put more pressure on them. It was for the first time the EP resolution cited Bidzina Ivanishvili [the founder of the ruling party and a former prime minister] as an oligarch. I do not believe that only international pressure can lead to changes as the government is ignoring this. They are afraid of losing power and seats alone and will not worry if the EU closes its door for Georgia. The public fails to react to the developments properly, although we have many reasons for this. The opposition is also weak and fighting with each other. Only a few part of the public thinks about the country’s fate and its future. We lack a healthy part of the public - those who may dislike Saakashvili and support the current government more, but, for instance, disapprove the publication of the footage or not ensuring the former president’s involvement in a trial hearing on him.
Front News: What about the opposition and its role?
Tatia Dolidze: a strong opposition would definitely be an important factor, but there is a difficult situation in this regard. It is important that their political decisions be consistent and not rivalry. The fact that today they say one thing and tomorrow another, damages their image in the public.