12 Feb 2020 11:42

Former Georgian president Margvelashvili calls conviction of opposition party leader political

TBILISI. Feb 12 (Interfax) - Former Tbilisi mayor and co-leader of the opposition party European Georgia Gigi Ugulava has been convicted because of his political activity, former Georgian president Giorgi Margvelashvili said on the Georgian television channel PalitraNews.

"I have never sympathized with the political activity of Ugulava and his party, but this is all about context. Why have the incumbent authorities taken cases off the shelf which were opened against all opposition leaders ten to 20 years ago? The situation has a political context and is related to the parliamentary elections due in the fall," Margvelashvili said.

"Gigi Ugulava is a political prisoner, seeing as his detention has a political context and is connected to his political activity," he said, noting that the political motivation behind the opposition activist's incarceration has been highlighted both in Georgia, as well as in the United States and Europe.

Ugulava actively took part in protests which broke out in Georgia in the fall of 2019, after a bill which was to introduce a proportionate electoral system in 2020, as promised to the opposition by the ruling party Georgian Dream, failed in parliament.

Ugulava was detained on February 10, on the basis of a ruling by the Georgian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court sentenced him to three years, two months, and eight days in custody on counts of embezzlement during his time as mayor of Tbilisi. The Georgian opposition was indignant at the sentence and has said it is ready to protest.