Ambassador Kelly’s comments to the media on the sidelines of Georgian American University’s commemoration of 24 years of US-Georgia diplom

Question on the legal charges brought against six men allegedly involved in the Kortskheli incident

Ambassador Kelly: I think the important thing is that charges were made.  I think it was very important not to send any kind of signal that this kind of violence – in the name of politics – is in any way acceptable.  We have been calling from the very first day for accountability and we are pleased that charges were brought after a period of investigation.  So, that is our bottom line.  I am not going to comment on how long it took.

Question on Rustavi 2 and allegations of judicial misuse of public funds

Ambassador Kelly:  Let me make two very general comments.  Since this is an ongoing judicial process I don’t want to talk about the specifics of the trial.  But I do want to make two very general comments –  one about the process itself and one about the very important stakes involved in this particular case.  First of all, on the process itself:  of course a very important foundation of any democracy is the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary, and the objectivity of the whole process. And I would just like to say that any kind of behavior that denigrates the officers of the court or the institution itself is just absolutely unacceptable, would be unacceptable in America, and it should be unacceptable here. So, that’s the first point.

Second of all, let me just again say something very general.  The last thing I want to do is get very specifically involved in a court case; it is extremely inappropriate for me to do that.  Let me just make perfectly clear how I am thinking about this, and let me put it into the American context.  If in an election year – and, of course, we are in an election year in America – the leading opposition television station were involved in a court case that would change the ownership and the management of that station, this would be seen as completely intolerable and unacceptable.  And all three branches of government, civil society, and the media would do everything that they could to make sure that this would not happen in an election year – for the very simple reason that an election can only be legitimate if everybody has access to the media.  And this is a case of a television station that is the leading voice of the opposition.  In the United States this would be completely unacceptable – for a change of management and ownership [of the leading opposition television station] – and I hope it will be unacceptable here in Georgia.