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Georgia Needs Transparency in Post-Election Arrests, U.S. Says

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon called on Georgia to guarantee transparency as former officials were arrested after billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s parliamentary election victory.

Police arrested Ex-Deputy Interior Minister Shota Khizanishvili and 11 other former officials yesterday on charges including computer hacking and illegal wire-tapping, the Prosecutor’s Office said today. Bacho Akhalaia, a former defense and interior minister, was sentenced to two months pre-trial detention this month after being charged with abuse of office and false imprisonment.

“It’s absolutely critical to be scrupulous in both reality and perception of how this process is working,” Gordon told the reporters today in the capital, Tbilisi, after meeting Ivanishvili, who’s now prime minister. “If this looks like or it’s designed solely to go after political adversaries or isn’t done in a transparent way, the whole country will pay the price.”

U.S.-backed President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party was unexpectedly defeated by Ivanishvili’s opposition coalition in Oct. 1 elections. The billionaire has said the authorities won’t impose selective justice on officials from the former regime.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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