Kakha Bendukidze: Support base of Georgian Dream is eroding speedily

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Former Economy Minister of Georgia Kakha Bendukidze evaluated political processes in the country and criminal proceedings instituted against former high officials in the Imedi TV talk show Pozitsia on 11 July. He also commented on a statement of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in which Garibashvili said that the local elections will put an end to cohabitation.

"Cohabitation, in a classic meaning of this word, proceeding from the French model, means the coexistence of a prime minister and a president. Therefore, it is a little unclear what the prime minister [Garibashvili] meant. If he meant stopping coexistence with the president, we will probably get an interesting situation. If he meant that the local elections will free hands of the Georgian Dream to trigger terror, this seems more realistic to me. I think that the exacerbation will take place in the forthcoming months. I do not think it will start outright, but such things will probably happen in September and October. A demand for staging shows will emerge in September-October and doing that in August will probably produce no effect. Law enforcement agencies will undertake corresponding actions, but I think these will be the last such wave because, in my opinion, the support base of the current government is eroding quite speedily and it is clear that for the next year, Georgian Dream will be one of political forces and will by no means be a dominant force," Bendukidze said.

According to Bendukidze, these actions pursue two goals – the first is a key political decision to annihilate any independent source of political opinion – no one should be left who is not coherent and subordinated to wishes or goals of the government.

"And the second is that the situation in economy is not favorable due to mistakes made by the government. In my strong opinion and not only in my opinion but the world experience provides the ground to say that the vision of the government is not conducive to economic growth whilst its idea about how the economy must grow is wrong. And those measures [arrests and investigations] are undertaken to distract attention from economic failure and to shift it from undelivered promises towards delivered punishments," declared Bendukidze.

The former Economy Minister spoke about the arrest of the former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava too.

"I cannot express any dissenting opinion that there is a trial against certain alleged wrongdoings – this is a normal process and the essence of justice and no one would argue that it is prohibited to try a person because he/she is a good person, did good things or looks pretty. However, when a criminal proceeding is instituted against economic crimes and a person [suspected in economic crimes] is arrested and cuffed in a manner as a sexual offender or a murdered trying to flee would have been cuffed after being chased and caught – this is what looks a little bit comical had it not been tragic.

"Doing that is in any case comical. Charges have been brought and there is a court to apply a corresponding punishment. Whether to apply a fine or an imprisonment is something to be decided by a court. Such a frequent application of pretrial detention does not speak in favor of the situation concerning our law enforcement agencies and judiciary; otherwise we know perfectly well that there were trials in many countries against country leaderships.

"For example, a court proceeding is underway against Sarkozy in France; there was also a trial against Chirac, but it did not come to anyone's mind to apply pretrial custody against Chirac first and then hold a year-long trial. The same holds true for Sarkozy – detaining him now for two months in order to make the trial easier is excluded. This [pretrial detention] is an absolutely excessive measure which enables people both inside and outside Georgia to claim that this process is politically motivated," said Kakha Bendukidze

Bendukidze has not ruled out that investigations will extend to other former high officials in future, including himself.

"I never rule out anything because the life is arranged in such a way that one never knows what will happen. Let me say with regard to [former National Security Council Secretary Giga] Bokeria that if this happens it will be very shameful. It would be good to hold a live discussion of this case if that does not violate any secrecy of investigation, because a criminal proceeding that has been instituted [against Giga Bokeria] is outrageous. A criminal proceeding instituted against us [Free University] is also outrageous because there is no culprit in that case but the investigation is in progress trying to find something related to us," Bendukidze said.

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