Opposition leader in prison: Georgia's PM resigns
Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has unexpectedly resigned in protest against a court order for the arrest of his most prominent rival, Nika Melia. Melia, head of the opposition party United National Movement, has been charged with involvement in the 2019 protests and the storming of parliament. Gakharia was pushing for Georgia's integration into the west. Observers are deflated.
In best post-Soviet company
Zeit Online asks how democratic things really are in the country:
“The governing party Georgian Dream is a political instrument of the businessman and oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili. His party controls the government as well as the courts and the investigatory authorities. Gakharia has to go because he got too independent and therefore won't be needed any more. ... So the question remains as to why all the wonderful laws against corruption and cronyism are not working. After all, Western advisers, mostly from the EU, spent a long time helping to create them. Answer: they are not being implemented. This puts Georgia in best post-Soviet company; in the neighbouring countries, from Azerbaijan to Russia, things look a lot worse. But of course in the West we were hoping that Georgia might be the exception.”
Crisis slows down alignment with the West
The current situation is damaging Georgia's international relations, writes Ukrayinska Pravda:
“Gakharia was relying on talks and compromises with the opposition. Not least because he knew very well what an impact this crisis was having on Tbilisi's dialogue with the West. ... At any rate, after this week all hopes of Georgia joining the NATO Membership Action Plan any time soon, which in turn would have helped Ukraine to gain this status, have been dashed. States that persecute the opposition cannot join NATO's Membership Action Plan.”