TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani wants guidelines for criminal investigations involving people running in the local election in June.
Tsulukiani did not explain more specifically what kind of rules it will be beyond calling for ‘recommendations’. She said members of a newly created inter-agency election commission have to discuss this issue and then decide.
National Movement, the party which ran Georgia as a de facto one-party state for almost a decade but lost power in 2012, accuses the government of interference in its election campaign.
Party members who are active in the campaign have been summoned for questioning for things they did while in power, such as embezzlement, and the UNM claims that these criminal investigations are a form of political pressure on them by the coalition now in power, Georgian Dream, rather than attempts at cleaning up real crimes.
At the inter-agency commission’s meeting on Friday, UNM members asked for a reaction to what they claim is a politicized justice system, although while in power, the UNM used to scoff at suggestions that the justice system was politicized.
Before the last election under UNM rule, in October 2012, the main opposition force, Georgian Dream, was subject to many legal moves, such as the revoking of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s citizenship and the attacks on his Cartu Bank.
The system with having an inter-agency commission to handle election violations was begun during Saakashvili’s rule and the first chair was Giga Bokeria, former Secretary of the Security Council. Because of his authority and influence it was possible to solve certain problems like preventing opposition activists from holding meetings, summoning them for questioning or threatening them.
Before the presidential election in 2013, the inter-agency commission recommended not questioning people who were actively participating in election processes.
Tsulukiani said this year’s recommendations will be prepared in a few days.