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On 16 September 2014, the First Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, Manana Kobakhidze, was a guest of the talk show, Archevani.

The host of the show, Giorgi Gabunia, asked her to comment upon the 12 September 2014 statement of the US Department of State. The MP explained that any statement made by the US Department of State or any other partner of Georgia is of particular importance. However, Ms Kobakhidze also said that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the given statement and that the word “politicised” was only used because it concerned a politician; in the given case, Mikheil Saakashvili. She also clarified that if the United States of America has any problems with criminal proceedings against the members of the previous government, it has every opportunity to say so. For example, Georgia’s American partners could say that Mikheil Saakashvili is a political refugee or that Vano Merabishvili is a political prisoner; however, they are not doing this.

FactCheck

took interest in the statement of the US Department of State and tried to analyse the accuracy of the MP’s statement.

On 12 September 2014, the US Department of State published a statement

concerning Georgia:

“The United States urges all of Georgia’s pro-democracy and pro-Euro-Atlantic forces to focus on their common interests, build on recent achievements, and work together to move the country forward and address the pressing economic and regional security challenges of the day. We are concerned by the continued investigations and criminal charges against opposition figures and the risks that politicised prosecutions would pose for Georgia’s democracy. The United States continues to support Georgia’s democratic development, which must include respect for political pluralism and open debate.”

FactCheck

believes that the meaning of the word “politicised” from the full text of the statement is absolutely clear. The meaning of the phrase “politicised prosecutions” also leaves little room for interpretation. Understanding any kind of information is, of course, based upon individual perception; however, the MP’s interpretation that the term “politicised” is only used because it concerns a politician is initially wrong.

The term “politicised prosecution” is used by the US Department of State not only about a politician but any other person who is prosecuted because of his/her opinion or actions only because these opinions or actions are unacceptable for the governing political power.

A good example of this is the 2 May 2013 statement

of the US Department of State concerning the imprisonment of a journalist in Ethiopia:

“The United States is deeply disappointed that Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court upheld the conviction and harsh sentencing of journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition politician Andualem Arage under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Penal Code. Today’s decision further reinforces our serious concern about Ethiopia’s politicised prosecution of those critical of the government and ruling party, including under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.”

The statement makes clear that by the term “politicised prosecution,” the US Department of State expresses its negative attitude towards the decision and criticises it.

This term is used by the Department of State in commenting upon the proceedings not only against a politician but any other person when the politically motivated prosecution is at hand.

The 1 October 2014 Resolution

of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should also be noted in this context. Apart from praising the progress of democracy, the Resolution negatively assesses political polarisation, politically motivated prosecutions and selective and revanchist justice.

Conclusion

The 12 September 2014 statement of the US Department of State explicitly and unambiguously expresses concern about the risks that politicised prosecutions could cause to Georgian democracy. As the practice shows, the term “politicised prosecution” is used by the Department of State when talking about politically motivated prosecutions whether or not these prosecutions are against politicians.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Manana Kobakhidze’s statement that the statement of the US Department of State uses the word “politicised” only because it concerns Mikheil Saakashvili as a politician is a LIE.