GD Authorities Under Fire Over Saakashvili Videos, Treatment

The Georgian Dream authorities came under fire over the penitentiary publishing explicit footages showing Mikheil Saakashvili being dragged against his will into the Gldani N18 prison hospital by several prison employees. The State Inspector’s Service, civil society leaders and opposition politicians have strongly condemned the move. 

The State Inspector’s Service called on Justice Ministry and the Special Penitentiary Service to stop publishing videos containing personal data of Saakashvili and to respect former President’s “to respect human dignity, honor, and privacy.”

Noting that it is “categorically unacceptable” for these institutions to continue such practices, the State Inspector said the disclosure of these footages, that feature as evidence in their probe, threatens effective investigation

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association, a veteran watchdog, slammed the Penitentiary Service over “unjustified” dissemination of videos. GYLA lambasted the agency for disregarding calls by the Public Defender and the State Inspector’s Service to respect Saakashvili’s right to private life, and ensure his treatment in a dignity.

Keti Khutsishvili, Director of Open Society Georgia Foundation said by releasing the footage the authorities “clearly showed us how they were humiliating and inhumanely treating the [ex-]President.” Khutsishvili argued that the videos serve as evidence for the Public Defender and the State Inspector that “a grave violation of the [former] President’s rights” had occured.  

Nika Melia, chairperson of the United National Movement, ex-President’s party called the release of Saakashvili videos “a personal revenge against one human being, who is deprived of the right to stand before court trial, even in an unfair court [like ours].”

Girchi – More Freedom leader Zurab Zaparidze said by the release of footages showing mistreatment the former President, the authorities presumably aim at angering hundreds of thousands of Saakashvili’s supporters and civil confrontation.

Giga Bokeria, European Georgia party leader argued the reason behind transferring Saakashvili to Gldani penitentiary facility was “a political humiliation, intimidation and revanche by the criminal culture, on which [GD founder Bidzina] Ivanishvili’s regime is based on.” He said the released footages continues [this very process],  that gives joy to eveil forces within the country and the enemies of our country abroad.”

Erstwhile Georgian Dream Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who once threatened with ending UNM, also criticized the Government of over the videos. “When you resemble your ‘enemy’ to this degree, you are already defeated!,” Gakharia wrote on Facebook.

GD Defends Forced Transfer, Dissemination of Videos

“People should know what happened in reality, that there was neither dragging [of Saakashvili] by hair… nor physical abuse, that was an usual story in prisons governed by Saakashvili,” argued Gia Volski, the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. He said “when a prisoner, be it Saakashvili or anyone else, offers resistence, of course, it is permissible to take him into the place where he is assigned to via this method.”

“But it was not a pleasant thing to watch,” MP Volski noted.

Guram Macharashvili, another Georgian Dream MP said “inmate Saakashvili has been transferred to the [prison] medical facility, which he unfortunately rejected and unfortunately, the penitentiary employees had to transfer him by force, for the sake of maintaining stability of his health.”

MP Macharashvili continued: “And secondly, the society saw how the person on hunger strike for 40 days had abused penitentiary employees physically… [These videos] confirmed what we were saying, that unfortunately, the fact about his hunger strike was a speculation.”

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