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‘Biden threatened sanctions to stop them questioning me’

by | Apr 24, 2014
mikheil_saakashvili_in_new_york_2013-12-15_2

Mikheil Saakashvili during an interview with Ukrainian TV in December, 2013. (112.ua)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A government spokesman in Georgia rejects a claim by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili that US Vice President Joe Biden called and threatened sanctions.

Saakashvili claimed Biden threatened that the West would seize ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s personal bank accounts after the Prosecutor’s Office summoned Saakashvili for questioning.

Saakashvili made his claim on Tuesday via Skype as he addressed participants at the opening of the presidential library in Tbilisi.

He said Biden spoke with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and told him not to call Saakashvili in for questioning.

“They told them [the government] that they would establish sanctions personally for Ivanishvili, seize his accounts, revise his French citizenship, that he wouldn’t be able to move freely and would have problems,” he said.

Saakashvili further claimed that EU leaders prepared a statement saying that signing an Association Agreement wouldn’t ‘automatically’ take place if this continues.

“Why do Americans and Europeans do it? They know perfectly that I didn’t have any ties with corruption or any other crime.”

Saakashvili was summoned to come to the Prosecutor’s Office about a month ago to answer questions in ten criminal cases involving former officials. He didn’t show up. The Prosecutor’s Office offered to question him via Skype, but he still refused and said he would only answer questions in a courtroom.

Under Georgian law, the Prosecutor’s Office could not force him to show up for questioning if he wasn’t charged with a crime or declared a wanted person, but Gharibashvili said in an interview that if Saakashvili refused to come for questioning, he would be declared wanted.

Later, the Prosecutor’s Office announced that they would investigate the ten cases without Saakashvili’s testimony, a statement which puzzled many. National Movement members then said that summoning him for questioning was nothing else than harassment of political opponents.

In his Skype talk, Saakashvili claimed that the reason for the about-face by the Prosecutor’s Office was that Prime Minister Gharibashvili ordered them to it, because of threats from the US Vice President.

Ivanishvili has not commented on Saakashvili’s statement. There are rumors that he is not in Georgia, but no-one in the government has confirmed this.

Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani told journalists that Saakashvili’s statement was ‘very unserious.’

He said he has attended every meeting the prime minister had during his recent visit to the US and Saakashvili wasn’t mentioned at any of them, and that there wasn’t any boycott by the US embassy or any messages to the ministry.

“I want to say that Georgia firmly is conducting a [policy] course of Euro Atlantic integration,” he said, adding that every visit by PM was successful, which was underlined repeatedly by partners.

The presidential library in Tbilisi was built on the initiative of Saakashvili himself and his party members. It contains books from Saakashvili’s personal library.

Organizers said the ex-president will continue to collect new items for the library, mainly about political sciences and architecture. It is well known that Saakashvili is fond of architecture. Andro Barnovi, who used to be head of Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, will chair the library.

The opening ceremony was held on Tuesday and attended by media and National Movement members. Saakashvili, who is in New York, called in via Skype and addressed the guests. It was during this address he made the claim about Biden’s phone call.

He also said in his Skype address that Georgia has strategic partnership with the US which will continue.



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