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Sought by International Police Is Now Political Refugee


Zaza Tsuladze, Voice of America, Tbilisi

The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs seeks Temur Basilia, 54, with the support of the INTERPOL. However, the USA granted political shelter to him.

Economist Basilia appeared in Georgian politics from the Republic-Federal Party; later he joined the Union of Traditionalists. In 1992, he became member of the parliament where he initially was chairman of the budget committee and then, in 1994, he occupied the position of the Vice-Premier in the government of Georgia. A year later, when Traditionalists lost elections to enter the parliament, Basilia left the political party and remained in the state service. In 1997, he became economic advisor to the President Shevardnadze and occupied the position before the Rose Revolution. In 2004, Basilia was several times interrogated, though not arrested and finally was allowed to leave the country. Later, he was declared wanted; in 2008, the Tbilisi City Court sentenced him to 9-year-imprisonment in absentia. In his exclusive interview with the Voice of America, Temur Basilia recalled why and how he received a political shelter in the USA.

“On May 26, Immigration Court in Baltimore discussed my case. The judge decided to grant a political shelter in the USA. My argument was still going politically motivated persecution against me in Georgia; the US Immigration Court considered my argument and made consequent decision on my case.”

It is interesting that wanted Basilia continued working in the USA. In 2004-2005 he was head of the UN Millennium Program in Tajikistan. Later, he lived in the Kazakhstan as a UN Officer. In 2009, Basilia suddenly joined a Progress Center in Washington and it caused serious discontent in Tbilisi. In February of 2010, Georgian Prosecutor’s Office spread information that Basilia was detained in Washington for having breached the immigration law. Prosecutor Nana Rapava said the US government was going to assign Basilia to Georgia. Today, Temur Basilia says, it was conscious disinformation and nobody has ever detained him in the USA.

Nana Rapava: “At the moment, Temur Basilia is detained in the USA because of the breached immigration law and the US Immigration Department intends to deport him to Georgia in near future.”

Temur Basilia: “On February 4, 2010, when it was reported that I was arrested in USA because of breached immigration law, I was at home and living a peaceful life.”

Officials of neither executive nor legislative government in Georgia commented on granting political shelter to Basilia in the USA. Basilia said he is going to continue his professional activities. “Now, I will be able to start working as an economist and afterwards I will think over other activities too.”

Since 2004, several famous people, judged or sought by Georgian authority, received political shelters abroad like Basilia. France granted shelter to the former Defense Minister of Georgia Irakli Okruashvili and former Shida Kartli regional governor Mikheil Kareli; they were sentenced to 11 and 16 year-imprisonment relatively. The Netherland granted a shelter to Iason Chikhladze, former high-ranking official of the defense ministry, who was sought and then arrested in Germany. Germany granted shelter to the former owner of the Georgian TV-Company “Rustavi 2” Kibar Khalvashi and did not deport former head of the Georgian Forest Department Bidzina Giorgobiani to Tbilisi; the latter is still sought by Interpol. Former director of the Georgian Madneuli (ores) Zurab Lobzhanidze received a shelter in Switzerland; Georgian Court sentenced him to seven-year-imprisonment and is sought by Interpol as well. Recently, Switzerland granted political shelter to Soso Jandieri, former head of Rapid Response Department of the National Movement; to Rusudan Sharadze - daughter of Georgian scientist Guram Sharadze, who was killed in Tbilisi and to journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze.

In 2008, USA gave a political shelter to the former commander of the Georgian Marine Forces Gocha Vetriakov.

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