Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the arrest of former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili:
“For years, Georgia has served as a model of democracy and freedom in a difficult region. I am deeply concerned about what appears to be the politically motivated arrests of former Georgian Prime Minister and current head of the opposition Vano Merabishvili as well as more than one hundred former government officials since last year’s election. The use of pretrial detention in Merabishvili’s case is unnecessary and the government’s efforts to try him in the court of public opinion, rather than through the judicial system, raises questions about the motivations behind his arrest.
“In the run-up to Georgia’s presidential election in October, it is important that the Georgian government not resort to such tactics and other efforts to intimidate the opposition. These actions, if continued, call into question the Georgian government’s commitment to the kind of democratic standards that have become the hallmark of the Trans-Atlantic community of democratic nations.
“Georgia’s friends are watching these developments closely, as are those who wish to undermine Georgia’s significant democratic progress. I urge the Obama administration to speak out clearly in defense of the rule of law and an independent judiciary in Georgia. I will be working with my Senate colleagues in the coming months to find ways to strengthen this important relationship and ensure that Georgia remains a beacon of freedom for its neighbors.”