Georgian opposition TV channel co-founder sentenced to 4 years
Tbilisi City Court has found Giorgi Rurua, the co-founder of opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi, guilty of the unlawful acquisition and carrying of a firearm and sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment.
The opposition says Rurua’s release constituted a part of the electoral system agreement signed by the ruling party and the opposition party on 8 March of this year.
The first part of the memorandum was concerned with the transition to a new election system, where 120 seats in the legislature would be distributed according to the party-list electoral system and the remaining 30 by a majoritarian system. According to the second part of the memorandum, the following political prisoners were to be released: the ex-Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, the former Minister of Defence, Irakli Okruashvili, and Giorgi Rurua.
The ruling Georgian Dream party denies the existence of the second part, since, according to them, there are no political prisoners in Georgia.
However, as a result of harsh criticism from the West, Ugulava and Okruashvili were pardoned by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili. Rurua remains behind bars, and many in Tbilisi feel that the real reason is that he is a co-owner of an opposition television channel and has also financially supported the opposition.
Giorgi Rurua was arrested 18 November 2019, only a few hours after a meeting of the opposition ended. He claims to be innocent of the charge of unlawful acquisition and carrying of a firearm and considers his case to be politically motivated.