Int’l Reactions to Zaza Gakheladze Verdict

The international community, including, the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, the U.S. and UK Embassies in Tbilisi, the EU Delegation to Georgia, as well as the Latvian Foreign Ministry, condemned the recent sentencing of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze, by the Kremlin-backed authorities in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

The PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlăţean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), on February 9 called for the immediate release of Zaza Gakheladze, sentenced to more than twelve years in prison “by a so-called court in Tskhinvali.”

The co-rapporteurs underscored Russia’s responsibility as the country “in control” over the occupied Tskhinvali/South Ossetia region, reiterating their support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.

The British Embassy in Tbilisi on February 8 also called for the immediate release of Gakheladze, asserting that all Georgian citizens should have the right “to travel within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders.”

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi decried on February 5 the illegal verdict by the Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali authorities, dubbing it “yet another example of Russia’s attempts to illegally control and exploit the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

Expressing solidarity with Zaza Gakheladze and his family, the U.S. Embassy underscored that Russian “actions threaten the lives, human rights, culture, and personal freedoms” of Georgian citizens.

The statement further stressed that this incident would not have occurred “if Russia had fulfilled its obligation under the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions,” calling on Moscow to reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell reacted to the illegal verdict on February 5 as well, urging Gakheladze’s prompt release. Ambassador Hartzell stressed that the EU will continue addressing the human rights and security situation of the conflict-affected communities living alongside the occupation line.

“The EU also reminds Russia of its responsibilities in line with the judgment of 21 January 2021 of the European Court of Human Rights,” Ambassador Hartzell noted.

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 10 “strongly” condemned Gakheladze’s sentence, called for his “immediate release,” and reiterated Latvia’s “full support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within it’s internationally recognized borders.”

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