TBILISI, DFWatch – A supporter of a former government top who is now in the opposition was arrested Friday morning.
For unknown reasons, Interior Ministry gave explanations for the arrest instead of Prosecutor’s office. Those two are different bodies, according to Georgian legislation.
The arrest was reported by Nino Burjanadze, one of the three leaders of the peaceful coup in 2003 which brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power. She was Speaker of Parliament for years, but left the ruling party in 2008 and formed her own party, Democratic Movement United Georgia.
Zaza Sopromadze, the man who was arrested, is member of the main council and regional secretary of Burjandaze’s party. In addition, he for years used to be member of the government and chaired a state social insurance fund.
But in 2006 he was arrested for abusing his authority, and is currently on probation. After being released, Sopromadze joined Burjanadze’s party.
Nino Burjanadze says people in uniforms entered Sopromadze’s home at 04:00 am on Friday and arrested him without giving any explanations. For a certain period his location was unknown.
The leader of the party also said that it is unclear to her why Sopromadze was arrested in this way, because he is on probation anyway, and will have to report to police immediately if they call for him.
“The arrest of Sopromadze once again proves that there is a neo-Bolshevik system in the country,” Burjanadze said, adding that they were informed beforehand that the government was planning political terror against leaders of political parties at the end of July and beginning of August.
“This is not surprising as there are only two months left before the elections. The government proves by its own steps that it is not planning to conduct fair elections and give up its power.”
She says her party has information that there was an attempt to arrest Sopromadze’s former co-employees, who were forced to give testimony against Sopromadze.
Accordingly, Nino Burjanadze and lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili assume that Sopromadze’s arrest is related to a period when he was working as chair of the state foundation for social insurance.
“We condemn and protest the steps which the government is taking against opposition parties and leaders. This is direct harassment of parties. We know that the government fears our party and doesn’t want Democratic Movement to participate in elections.”
Burjanadze called for other parties to condemn this government action and to express solidarity with each other.
Shota Khizanishvili, Deputy Interior Minister, later said that Zaza Sopromadze is not arrested but was called to the Prosecutor’s Office as a witness. He did not specify a reason for this and the Prosecutor’s Office is so far not commenting.