Saakashvili will possibly resign and move into opposition in Ukraine

Published in World
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 17:26

Odessa Governor, Mikheil Saakashvili and his Georgian team of reformers working in Ukraine, will possibly resign and move into opposition in Ukraine. This statement was made by one of the leaders of the UNM party (United National Movement), George Baramidze, in an exclusive interview with Starvision TV. Baramidze said that the reform process has been accompanied by major difficulties in Ukraine because of the many corrupt officials in government who are creating obstacles to prevent reforms. If the Georgian team is not able to accomplish their reform objectives then they will resign and continue the battle in a different way along with those Ukrainians who want to reform the country. This situation is widely understood in Ukraine and the issue has been the subject of close scrutiny and discussion. “The Ukrainian ministry of Internal affairs, with the help of Eka Zguladze and Khatia Dekanoidze, made serious reforms to the police system. When you reform only one small part of the system and the rest remains in the swamp, than the one little non corrupted island cannot endure for very long. The same thing happened with the prosecution system. David Sakvarelidze has created General Inspectorate of the Prosecutor General’s Office and brought together a good team of prosecutors, however the rest of prosecution system has been left unreformed. All this has defeated many of the already implemented reforms. So it is possible that many other reforms may will fail too..”- Baramidze said. "But the struggle is ongoing. Mikheil Saakashvili is not going to retreat. However I think it is possible that our team will resign and move into opposition in order to be more able to be actively involved in political life and processes without having their hands bound. Saakashvili will be the main political figure in these processes and the Ukrainians will be behind him. They will create a positive climate in the political arena.” “Nothing good and meaningful will happen within the current parliament if everything is not fundamentally changed and if new elections are not held and if a new Parliament is not elected with a normal parliamentary majority. The current Parliament is guided not by the people’s interests but by the interests of oligarchs, so they do not create basic reforms.” Giorgi Baramidze also said that everything now depends on the decision of president Poroshenko. According to him, if there will be the opportunity to carry out reforms, they will continue to operate, otherwise they will continue the political struggle.

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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Myroslava Gongadze of Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service

    Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Myroslava Gongadze of Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service

    ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE

    QUESTION: Today we have a chance to talk about the crisis with Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity and for your time —

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: It’s good to be with you.

    QUESTION: — and for your effort.

    So your administration said that Russia can invade any moment. What is your administration ready to do to defer Russian aggression? And what would be the three major steps you would – you are ready to do if Russia will invade tomorrow?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, first, we’ve offered Russia a clear choice, a choice between pursuing dialogue and diplomacy on the one hand, or confrontation and consequences on the other hand. And we’ve just been engaged in an extensive series of diplomatic engagements with Russia, directly between us, through the Strategic Stability Dialogue, at NATO with the NATO-Russia Council, at the OSCE, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe. And my hope remains that Russia will pursue that diplomatic path. It’s clearly preferable.

    QUESTION: Still, would U.S. —

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: But – but to your point, we’ve also – we’ve equally made clear that if Russia chooses to renew its aggression against Ukraine, we – and not just we the United States, we many countries throughout Europe and even some beyond – will respond very forcefully and resolutely, and in three ways.

    First, we’ve been working intensely on elaborating extensive sanctions: financial, economic, export controls, and others, and —

    QUESTION: Does it include cutting from SWIFT —

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: — doing that – I’m not going to get into the details of what they are, but we’re doing that in very close coordination with European allies and partners. A second consequence would almost certainly be further assistance, defensive military assistance, to Ukraine. And third, it’s almost certain that NATO would have to reinforce its own defenses on its on its eastern flank.

    And you know, what’s so striking about this is that when you think about it, President Putin, going back to 2014, has managed to precipitate what he says he wants to prevent. Because among other things, NATO had to reinforce itself after Russia invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea, the Donbas – after that happened. So we’ve laid out the consequences clearly for Russia, but also the far preferable path of resolving differences diplomatically. And we’ll see which path President Putin decides to take.

    QUESTION: Still, the question of is the SWIFT – cutting Russia from SWIFT is on the table, and personal sanctions against personally Putin and his family are on the table.

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: What I can tell you is this, and it’s not just me saying this – the G7, the leading democratic economies in the world, the European Union, NATO have all each declared as institutions, as a collection of countries that there will be, and I quote, “massive consequences” for Russia if it renews its aggression against Ukraine. We’ve also said that the measures that we’re looking at go well beyond steps that we’ve taken in the past, including in 2014. I’m not going to detail them here or telegraph the steps we take, but I can tell you the consequences would be severe. But again, I want to insist on the fact that it would be far preferable not to have to go down that path. We’re fully prepared to do it, but the preference is to see if we can resolve differences, address concerns in both directions through diplomacy.

    QUESTION: Russia ask for a written response to demand never to accept Ukraine into NATO. Are you preparing to – are you preparing such a written response, and what kind?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: So we had the last week of these important engagements, as I noted, and we now have an opportunity, both Russia and all of us – the United States, our European partners – to take back what we heard from each other. The Russians have gone back and presumably are consulting with President Putin. We’ve done the same in my case with President Biden. The Europeans have done the same with their leaders. And the next step in this process is for me to have a chance to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva on Friday and to see what – how Russia has responded to what’s already been discussed. They’ll hear from us.

    Before that, though, I was determined, at President Biden’s instruction, to come here to Kyiv to consult with our Ukrainian partners, and then tomorrow in Berlin to meet with some of our closest European partners. That’s exactly how we’ve proceeded all along. We’ve done everything in very close consultation before and after any of our engagements with Russia.

    QUESTION: However, you didn’t answer my question about are you preparing the written response to Russian demand.

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: Right now, the next step is to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov. Let’s see where we are after Friday, and we’ll take it from there.

    QUESTION: I had that question about Mr. Lavrov. You are scheduled to meet him. Do you see any signs that the Kremlin is changing its position at this point – moment?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: I can’t see that I see any direct evidence of that. Unfortunately, we can – we continue to see Russia having amassed very significant forces on Ukraine’s borders. That process seems to continue. On the other hand, the fact that we are meeting in Geneva, the fact that we will be discussing the conversations and exchanges that we’ve had over the last 10 days also suggests to me that diplomacy remains an open possibility, one that we’re determined to pursue as long and far as we can. We want to leave no diplomatic stone unturned, because again, that’s just a much better and more responsible way to deal with these problems.

    QUESTION: The Minsk Agreement is seen as the only valuable solution for this crisis. However, Russia and Ukraine has a different reading of the agreement. What has to be done to implement the agreement, or it’s time to renegotiate its norms?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: I don’t think there’s any need to renegotiate because, as you say, there is an agreement. In fact, there are actually three of them because Minsk evolved 2014 to 2015, and there are a number of very clear steps that both of the parties have to take. I think it’s fair to say looking back that many of those steps Ukraine has either implemented or begun to implement. There are some that it hasn’t yet tackled. I think unfortunately, it’s equally fair to say that Russia has done virtually nothing in terms of the steps required of it in the Minsk Agreement.

    So the first question is whether Russia is serious about resolving the Donbas through the Minsk process. If it is, I agree with you. I think that’s the best and right now really the only way forward. France, Germany are an important part of this through the so-called Normandy Format, and there are supposed to be upcoming meetings in that process. And again, it’s a test of whether Russia is serious about it. The one positive sign that we’ve seen in the last few weeks when it comes to Minsk is a loose ceasefire that is clearly an improvement over where things were that takes us back to where we were in 2020.

    But the real question is: Is Russia serious about implementing Minsk? If it is, we are prepared to facilitate that, we’re prepared to support that, we’re prepared to engage in that, but in support of this Normandy process that France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine are engaged in.

    QUESTION: Since you mentioned Germany, you mentioned Normandy Format, there was a lot of talks about U.S. joining that Normandy Format. Is there any reconsideration of U.S. doing so?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: I don’t think it’s a question of us joining the format. The question is whether it’s useful for us to try to facilitate things, to support it in any way that we can. If the answer to that is yes, we’re fully prepared to do that, and we’ve said – of course, share that with our allies and partners France and Germany, but we’ve also said that to Russia, and of course, to Ukraine.

    QUESTION: The U.S. National Security Advisor recently said that if Russia wants Nord Stream to start operating, it will have to stop aggression in Ukraine. Is the United States ready to accept the completion and activation of the pipeline for Russia to withdraw troops from the borders?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, we continue to oppose the pipeline for reasons that are well known and are long known. We think that it actually undermines Europe’s energy security. It obviously does tremendous potential damage to Ukraine including giving Russia the option to avoid the existing pipeline through Ukraine that results in a lot of transit fees for Ukraine, and the list goes on.

    Having said that, the pipeline is actually complete. The construction has been completed. It’s not operational. And to Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor’s point, right now, that pipeline is as much if not more leverage for us as it is for Russia, because the idea that if Russia commits renewed aggression against Ukraine, gas would flow through that pipeline, is highly, highly improbable. So that’s an interesting factor to see whether it affects Russia’s thinking as it’s deciding what to do.

    QUESTION: And I have two questions on the domestic agenda – Ukraine domestic agenda, if I may. The President Zelenskyy promised President Biden personally to fight corruption. He promised to appoint a special anticorruption prosecutor before the end of 2021. However, many Ukrainians argue that there is sabotage of anticorruption reforms. Is the United States, as a Ukraine strategic partner, satisfied with the reform progress in Ukraine? And is Ukraine at risk of losing the U.S. support if the government does not meet its commitment to reform agenda?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: I had a chance to spend time with President Zelenskyy today. We had a very good conversation about virtually all of these issues, including the question of reform. And President Zelenskyy has been pursuing reform, including most recently judicial reform. But there are other things that need to happen, including finally the appointment of this commissioner that should and could take place anytime, so we are looking to that to see that happen. It’s challenging. There are external pressures, there are internal pressures, but he has been on the path of reform.

    And ultimately, Ukraine’s progress, which we are determined to support, is contingent on reform. So we look to the president to continue that – those efforts. We very much support him in those efforts and we’ll continue to support Ukraine as it makes those efforts.

    QUESTION: Thank you so much. They are showing me that I have to cut. I have one more question, though. One more, please, one more question.

    Across from this building where we are going – doing this interview today, right, on the hearing – in the court hearing on treason charges brought against the former President Poroshenko, many experts and former (inaudible) politicians expressed their concern, and some say the charges are politically motivated. Do you think these charges and the progress of – and the process is justified at the time of looming war?

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, I can’t get into the details of this particular case. What I can say is this: It’s very important that in any proceeding, whether it’s this one or any other, that things go forward, it’s through an independent judiciary pursuant to the rule of law, and, as we would say, without fear or favor, no selective prosecutions. That’s a general rule that we would apply anywhere and everywhere.

    Second, this is a time I think where there’s a premium on national unity precisely because of the threat that Russia is posing. And it’s important for Ukrainians to come together whatever political differences they may have. One of Russia’s methods is to try to divide, to create divisions, to create distractions, and it’s important for Ukrainians to come together to resist that and to deal with the challenge posed by Russia as one – as one country with an incredible future that the United States strongly supports, but one that’s being challenged.

    QUESTION: Thank you so much, because I would be escorted from this room. Thank you so much.

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Laughter.) Thank you. Good to be with you again.

    QUESTION: Good to be here.

    SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thanks very much.

    US Embassy in Georgia

  • Public Defender Demands Mikheil Saakashvili’s Involvement in His Trial

    Restricting the 3rd President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, from participating in his own trial grossly violates the right to a fair trial enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia and the European Convention.

    Mikheil Saakashvili has not been allowed to appear before court three times since his arrest. In all three cases, the Special Penitentiary Service refused to bring Mikheil Saakashvili to court and the court endorsed the refusal without critical deliberation.

    The Penitentiary Service named (1) the refusal of a substantial part of treatment by Mikheil Saakashvili and (2) the investigation being carried out by the State Security Service as reasons for refusing to bring the defendant to court.

    First of all, it is noteworthy that an abstract reference to the fact that the transfer of the prisoner due to his hunger strike would be a risk to his health cannot be considered as a substantiated argument. This will virtually deprive all prisoners that are on hunger strike of the opportunity to participate in their own judicial proceedings and exercise their right to a fair trial. Moreover, legislation reviews the protocol of action in a similar case and requires that, in case of health risks, the accused be accompanied by a medical worker during transfer.[1]

    As for the refusal to transfer Mikheil Saakashvili to court for the so-called security reasons, it is noteworthy that the procedural law does not provide for such an opportunity. The subordinate normative act explicitly and unequivocally states that an accused/convicted person shall be escorted to court at the request of the relevant authorized person of common courts, which does not require additional decision-making.[2]

    In addition, legislation does not recognize the possibility for the Penitentiary Service to refuse to transfer an accused person to court due to a pending investigation into any case. It should be noted that the maximum statute of limitations for the investigation carried out by the State Security Service is ten years.[3] This allows the Penitentiary Service to illegally, arbitrarily and permanently refer to the investigation ongoing in the State Security Service, which would be a de facto annulment of the defendant’s right of defence.

    In addition, the European Court of Human Rights considers that security issues must be clearly defined and meet the criteria of necessity. Judges should consider all possible alternatives to ensure safety and security and give preferencetoa less strict measureover a stricter one when it can achieve the same purpose.[4] Guarantees of a fair trial and public hearing are considered violated when the domestic court fails to explain why the state security system would not be able to deal with the security risks.[5]

    Thus, the Public Defender believes that at this moment there is no proper argument on the basis of which Mikheil Saakashvili should be restricted from appearing before court in person. The position presented by the Special Penitentiary Service cannot outweigh the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and the European Convention on Human Rights, which among other guarantees includes the right of the accused to personally and directly participate in oral, public hearings, with full observance of the principles of equality of arms, adversarial process and examination of evidence.

    The Public Defender calls on the Special Penitentiary Service to properly and conscientiously perform its rights and duties and ensure that Mikheil Saakashvili is brought before court, by providing appropriate guarantees for his health and safety. The Public Defender also calls on the court to give the accused the opportunity to state his position, participate in the examination of evidence and protect his rights within the framework of all three ongoing cases.


    [1] Order No. 149 of the Minister of Corrections of Georgia on the Approval of the Rules for Escorting/Transferring Defendants/Convicts, 19.10.2015, Annex No. 1, Article 37

    [2] Order No. 149 of the Minister of Corrections of Georgia on the Approval of the Rules for Escorting/Transferring Defendants/Convicts, 19.10.2015, Annex No. 1, Article 4, suparagraph 4.

    [3] Part 1 of Article 315, part 3 of Article 12, subparagraph "c" of part 1 of Article 71 of the Criminal Code of Georgia and Article 103 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia.

    [4] Riepan v. Austria, 35115/97, paragraphs 28-29; Krestovsky v. Russia, 14040/03, paragraph. 29.

    [5] Krestovsky, 29-30; Luchaninova v. Ukraine, 16347/02, 56-57.

  • Interim measures indicated concerning Georgia

    The Court has decided to indicate interim measures in the case of Saakashvili v. Georgia and has asked the Georgian Government to provide it with information on the applicant’s state of health, to guarantee his safety in prison and to provide him with appropriate medical care.

    The applicant, Mikheil Saakashvili, is the former President of Georgia. Having been convicted for a number of offences committed while in office, he is currently serving a prison sentence. The applicant claims he is a victim of ‘political persecution’ and has been on hunger strike for 41 days.

    Source: https://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=home

  • Public Defender Visits Mikheil Saakashvili in Medical Establishment No.18 of Penitentiary Service

    On November 8, 2021, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria visited third President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who was transferred to Medical Establishment No. 18 of the Penitentiary Service, Public Defender reports.

    At the meeting, Mikheil Saakashvili told the Public Defender that he had no information about his transfer to Establishment No. 18, as he was informed at Establishment No. 12 that he would be transferred to a multifunctional civil clinic on the basis of the decision of the medical council, which he agreed to.

    It should be noted that representatives of the Public Defender's Office visited Establishment No. 12 as well, where they could not find any document about provision of information to Mikheil Saakashvili or his consent relating to his transfer to Establishment No. 18.

    Speaking to the Public Defender, Mikheil Saakashvili explained that despite his refusal, he was forcibly placed in Establishment No. 18. The Public Defender's Office immediately informed the State Inspector's Office about the above for the purpose of launching an investigation.

    Particular attention should be paid to the environment in which Mikheil Saakashvili is placed, which grossly violates human rights. In particular, insulting and threatening shouts by prisoners of Establishment No. 18 are heard against Mikheil Saakashvili, which can be heard in Saakashvili's cell as well and clearly represents psychological pressure. Upon entering the penitentiary facility, voices of insult were heard by the Public Defender and her representatives. It is highly probable that a similar situation will continue and Mikheil Saakashvili's lawyers and other visitors will be subjected to similar verbal aggression.

    The Public Defender has repeatedly stated in her statements that the transfer of the prisoner from Establishment No. 12 to Establishment No. 18 would lead to the disorganization of Establishments Nos. 8 and 18 due to the significant risk of verbal aggression, noise and harassment.

    It should be noted that the Public Defender's Office checked the documents on the admission of prisoners to Establishment No. 18, as a result of which it was established that no other inmates of Establishment No. 12, except Mikheil Saakashvili, have been admitted to this facility since January 18, 2021. Information about the period before January 18, 2021 is yet unknown due to the inability to access the special archive at night hours.

  • Public Defender Checks Readiness of Medical Establishment No.18 for Mikheil Saakashvili’s Admission

    On October 24, 2021, Public Defender’s representatives checked the readiness of Medical Facility No. 18 for the possible admission of the third President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. The inspection revealed that the situation in the facility, in terms of medical care, does not fully comply with the report or recommendations issued by a multifunctional group of doctors on October 23, 2021, and there are also some safety risks.

    Representatives of the Public Defender examined the readiness of the facility in terms of provision of the medical services indicated in the report of the multifunctional group of doctors. The report refers to specific medical interventions and the transfer of Mikheil Saakashvili to a medical facility capable of providing the above services.

    Interviews with the administration and medical staff of Medical Facility No. 18, as well as inspection of infrastructure and medical equipment, revealed that the facility has the necessary resources to meet the medical needs of prisoners (including hunger strikers). However, the report issued by the multifunctional group of doctors regarding the medical needs of Mikheil Saakashvili directly refers to the need of implementation of certain medical procedures, which, unfortunately, is impossible to be provided in Facility No. 18. For example, the facility cannot provide magnetic resonance imaging, computerizedtomography or duplex scanning. In addition, the facility does not currently have a resuscitationspecialist, but according to the administration, the relevant specialists are expected to be employed in the near future.

    The monitoring made it clear that Facility No. 18 will not be able to provide the medical services indicated by the multifunctional group of doctors and Mikheil Saakashvili will need to be transferred to a civil clinic periodically. Given the fact that it is virtually impossible to fully predict changes in the health condition or aggravation of health of the prisoner who has long been on hunger strike, there may be quite severe or irreparable consequences during the patient's transfer in case of a critical change in the situation.

    It should be noted that the Public Defender's detailed review of the lack of medical staff and medical services in Facility No. 18 is provided in the 2020 Report of the National Preventive Mechanism.[1]

    In addition to medical services, the Public Defender's Office inspected the ward in which Mikheil Saakashvili is planned to be placed in case of his transfer to Facility No. 18. It should be noted that Penitentiary Establishment No. 12 accommodates prisoners who have conflict of interest with other prisoners (former police officers, military servicemen, officials). Consequently, any kind of contact with other prisoners poses security risks that the penitentiary establishment must avoid, otherwise there will be a violation of prisoner's rights.

    All the locations, where the third President of Georgia may have to stay/move to (during admission to the facility, placement in a ward, meeting with lawyers or family members, enjoyment of the right to walk, provision of medical care, making telephone calls, daily/hygienic procedures), were checked during the monitoring on October 24, 2021 and it was found out that although the administration of the facility expresses its readiness to ensure the safety of any prisoner, there are certain risks with respect to Mikheil Saakashvili. The infrastructure and environment fail to exclude the risk of verbal aggression and noise, verbal abuse and psychological pressure by certain groups of prisoners. It will also be problematic for visitors to visit Mikheil Saakashvili, as any entrant, including lawyers, will have to walk through the yard of Facility No. 8, close to buildings where other prisoners are placed, which increases the risk of verbal confrontation and abuse. A similar incident was reported at Facility No. 8 in 2015.

    Since it is necessary to go through the yard of Facility No. 8 to get to Facility No. 18 and since Facility No. 18 is located close to the residential buildings of Facility No. 8, we believe that there are risks regarding prisoners’ safety and disorganization of these two facilities. These threats may impede the peace of the prisoners and staff of these facilities, the proper functioning and order of the facilities, which will ultimately affect the situation of all prisoners.

    In view of all of the above, as well as the report of the multifunctional group of doctors, we believe that the Ministry of Justice/Special Penitentiary Service should select an alternative medical facility, where it will be possible to provide full and adequate medical services and security for the third President of Georgia. 

    Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia

     

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