Concerns over the Prosecutor’s office summoning an opposition member of the Supreme Council of Adjara
On February 12, the Prosecutor’s Office summoned Irakli Baramidze (UNM), member of the Supreme Council of Adjara for questioning. UNM’s regional organization has since linked the questioning with ongoing processes in the Supreme Council. In early February, the Georgian Dream faction lost its majority in the Supreme Council. This resulted in the UNM faction moving to dismiss the chairman of the Supreme Council Avtandil Beridze and chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee Aleksandre Chitishvili.
According to the official summons sent by the Prosecutor's Office, Irakli Baramidze was to be questioned about an electronic tender announced during his time as the governor of Keda Municipality in 2011. The tender was announced for building tennis courts and a volleyball stadium. The winning bidder Gulebi O.D. completed the task for GEL 84,667.
After his questioning, Baramidze told Transparency International Georgia that the prosecutor asked him questions on a range of topics other than the official reason for the summons. These topics included fuel expenditure of the municipality during his time as governor, staff policy, salaries and bonuses, and other issues. According to Baramidze, the prosecutor informed him that testimonies of employees currently working in Keda Municipality could also be used against him. Baramidze considers these actions as deliberate intimidation.
Representatives of UNM’s regional organization share Baramidze’s concern and link his questioning to the faction’s recent move to initiate dismissal of the Supreme Council chairman Avtandil Beridze.
The UNM initiated the dismissal procedure of the chairman of the Supreme Council Avtandil Beridze and chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee Aleksandre Chitishvili after two members of the Free Democrats and Medea Vasadze left the coalition which gave Georgian Dream the majority in the Supreme Council. UNM holds 8 seats in the Supreme Council and requires an additional 3 votes to dismiss the current chairman. Petre Zambakhidze (UNM) is confident that the initiators will be able to gather the required 11 votes with the help of the members that recently left the majority.
Starting an investigation on a 4-year-old case against a member of the opposition and hinting to other possible violations during questioning raises questions about political motivations behind the actions of the investigative authorities. Transparency International Georgia strongly believes that all violations of the law must be properly investigated, however, we think that the investigative authorities also have to answer all questions regarding possible intimidation of a member of the opposition by its representatives. For this purpose, it is necessary to immediately start an investigation on possible intimidation, and to make its results available to the public.