Civic activists and opposition politicians gathered in front of the Prosecutor’s Office in Tbilisi to protest the detention of two former members of a state commission that worked on demarcation of a border between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Civic activist Giga Makarashvili claimed at the rally that the detention of Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova is politically motivated. Makarashvili promised their families that the civic activists will ‘fight till the end’ for their release.
Opposition politicians also claim that Melashvili and Ilichova are ‘innocent’, therefore, condemn ‘persecution’ against them.
The United National Movement (UNM) member Salome Samadashvili addressed the families of the detainees, saying that both Melashvili and Ilichova will be released after the parliamentary elections when Bidzina Ivanishvili’s ‘regime’ will ‘come to an end’.
Speaking on the political motives behind their detention, Samadashvili said she believes the current Georgian government aims to make the detainees give testimonies against UNM’s former state officials.
- The Prosecutor’s Office reported today that Melashvili hid the 1938 original map from the commission members and instead used a 1970-80 map in the process of demarcating the border, leading to the forfeit of about 3,500 hectares of lands against Georgia’s interests.
- Earlier on September 24 Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said that new map materials found by Georgia might bring about changes to the Georgian-Azerbaijani 2006-2007 agreement on border issues which was made under the UNM government.
Opposition European Georgia member Elene Khoshtaria also expressed her support to the detainees, calling them ‘the victims of the system’.
It is absolutely clear that this is yet another nasty political game. It does not matter who will win and who will lose… Today, these people have been assaulted by the state, their health is under the threat”, Khoshtaria stated.
Lelo for Georgia party member Pikria Chikhladze said David Gareji monastery complex and Georgia’s national interests are worth much more than a confrontation between Bidzina Ivanishvili or Mikheil Saakashvili, who are considered as major rivals in thes eelections.
Chikhladze also claims that ‘the sudden developments’ around the monastery complex might be the subject of ‘political speculations’.
Ruling Party position
The ruling Georgia Dream party members disagree. In his remarks about the detention of the two individuals in the Georgia-Azerbaijani border case, MP Davit Matikashvili said the Prosecutor’s Office has unveiled a ‘very serious crime’.
Pointing fingers at the former UNM government, Matikashvili said the opposition is now trying to ‘politicise the situation’. “No, this is a specific crime”, he claimed.
Fellow MP Mamuka Mdinaradze is also confident that all of the state agencies are carrying out their duties will it be an election period or not.
To tell it on a political language we are talking about selling the homeland”, Mdinaradze said, urging that ‘this crime’ should be thoroughly investigated.
Accusing the detainees of hiding the original map, Mdinaradze called UNM ‘a hostile force in the country, which makes such crimes happen’.
Yet another ruling party MP Irakli Berai said this is Georgia’s internal affair, which will not reflect on ‘strategic partnership’ between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Calling on everyone not to politisice the issue, Beraia added as well that this process will not damage Georgia-Azerbaijani relations, ‘despite numerous attempts by various harmful actors’.