TBILISI — Georgian opposition figure Giorgi Rurua has been sentenced to four years in prison for the illegal possession and carrying of firearms, charges he and his supporters have called politically motivated.
The Tbilisi City Court found Rurua guilty on July 30 and sentenced him the same day.
Rurua, the founder and a shareholder of the opposition-aligned Mtavari Arkhi TV, was arrested on November 18 and charged with illegally purchasing, possessing, and carrying a firearm.
In mid-May, after President Salome Zurabishvili pardoned two opposition politicians — Gigi Ugulava, the leader of European Georgia-Movement for Freedom and a former mayor of Tbilisi, and former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who leads the opposition Victorious Georgia party — many thought that Ruruawould be released.
Such a move would have met the demands of the opposition, who had threatened to abandon a foreign-brokered deal between the opposition and the ruling party on election reforms, if “political prisoners” were not freed.
Georgia’s opposition parties claim Rurua’s release was a condition of the deal, which the governing Georgian Dream party denies.
In recent months, several members of the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament have called on the Georgian authorities to release Rurua.