"US does not intend to put up with the actions of the Georgian Dream" - political scientist on sanctions against judges
Gia Nodia on sanctions against judges
Political scientist Gia Nodia, speaking on the Palitranius TV channel about US sanctions against four high-ranking Georgian judges, said this is a “serious message from America”.
“This is a very serious message from the West, in particular from the American government, that it is not going to tolerate the political course of the Georgian Dream and put up with a clear retreat from democracy. And although this retreat is manifested in various areas, the issue of justice has traditionally been particularly acute.
“The American government decided to send a message directly to the judicial system. This will not directly affect the internal situation, but it will affect the general mood. As for the mood of the people, Georgian Dream is trying to maintain the illusion that it is following the policy of Western integration, while doing other things. There are some supporters of the authorities who believe in it. Gradually, confidence is eroded, and it becomes more and more difficult to believe.
“If America turns its back on you, then you will join the ranks of countries like Russia. This is very bad for the country and for its image. But at the same time a feeling has already formed, both outside and inside Georgia, that there is a big gap between the government and society. The majority of society is pro-Western, but the government isn’t,” Nodia maintains.
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The US State Department imposed sanctions on judges Mikhail Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and Valerian Tsertsvadze, as well as their family members, and banned them from entering the US “due to significant corrupt activities”, as a statement by Antony Blinken reads.
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Independent experts and human rights activists have noted for years that Levan Murusidze and Mikhail Chinchaladze lead a powerful “clan” of judges that is blocking the reforms needed to strengthen ties between Georgia and the EU. Both judges are associated with an influential body – the High Council of Justice. It is the main supervisory body of the country’s judiciary.
The judges are also believed to be linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in Georgia, founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and informal ruler of the country.
Murusidze was also distinguished by his loyalty to the previous government – he was a judge in the high-profile case of Sandro Girgvliani during the reign of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement party. Murusudze’s name is also associated with the commutation of sentences for those accused in the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.
A clause on the improvement of the judiciary was also included in the Charles Michel agreement of 19 April. Later, the US Ambassador also made statements several times. However, the government did not stop the process and continued to appoint life judges to the Supreme Court.
On October 31, the conference of judges elected two new members of the High Council of Justice: Paata Silagadze and Giorgi Goginashvili. It is believed that Silagadze and Goginashvili are members of the so-called judicial “clan” and both of them are appointed for life as judges of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal.