Advisor to US Secretary of State: Nika Gvaramia's arrest could create problems for Georgia
Nika Gvaramia’s arrest will make it difficult for Georgia to achieve its Euro-Atlantic goals
Derek Shoal, senior adviser to the US secretary of state, says the United States supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, although this week’s events [including the arrest of Main Channel founder Nika Gvaramia] will complicate matters. Derek Shoal stated this in an interview with Radio Liberty.
“The US fully supports Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, we want Georgia to achieve its goals. But the reality is that what happened earlier this week will make it harder to achieve them”.
According to him, the United States does not hide the fact that it is concerned about problems with media freedom and the independence of the judiciary in Georgia:
“We openly express our concerns, I mean the United States and our partners in Europe and elsewhere, when we have concerns about media freedom, the closure of open debate venues, the independence of the judiciary and other such issues, when important legislative acts.
As for the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, it is mentioned in the embassy statement, which, of course, is coordinated with Washington and reflects our willingness to be direct, open and very clear about our concerns. This is our line of conduct both in private conversations and in public space, because we believe that we should be frank with friends”.
Derek Shoal visited Georgia two days ago. He met with representatives of NGOs, the government and the opposition.
On May 16, Nika Gvaramia, director general of the opposition Mtavari TV channel was arrested in court. Gvaramia was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for using a company car for family needs.
Independent experts, representatives of public organizations and politicians consider Gvaramia’s arrest politically motivated.
The process was sharply criticised by the US embassy as “a disturbing pattern of selective investigations and prosecutions of individuals opposed to the current government”.
The heads of four opposition TV channels in Georgia call on the West not to let the oligarchic regime “completely destroy democracy in the country”.