Giorgi "Gigi" Ugulava (Georgian: გიგი უგულავა) (born August 15, 1975) is a Georgian politician and the former Mayor of Tbilisi (2005–2013). He was one of the former leaders of the United National Movement (UNM) party and former close ally of the former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.
Born in Tbilisi, Ugulava studied at the Tbilisi Theological Seminary (1992-4) and the University of Saarbrücken (1995-7), and graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology at the Tbilisi State University in 1998. Having briefly worked as a journalist for a Tbilisi-based Iberia TV, Internews, and Transparency International (1997-9), he became a consultant for the Eurasia Foundation in 2000. He directed the World Bank Association of Legal and Public Education from 2001 to 2003, and helped organize the youth organization Kmara! ("Enough"). The Kmara movement played a critical role in the bloodless Rose Revolution, which would bring the reformist leader Mikheil Saakashvili to power. Ugulava assumed the position of Deputy Security Minister in the new government and was moved to the post of Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti in September 2004. On April 20, 2005, he was appointed Chief of the Administration of the President of Georgia.
Mayor of Tbilisi
Ugulava was appointed Mayor of Tbilisi on July 12, 2005. When this post became elective in 2006, he ran successfully for mayor, and was elected by the Tbilisi Assembly on October 12, 2006 and re-elected through a direct vote on May 30, 2010. After the UNM-dominated central government was defeated by the Georgian Dream coalition in the 2012 parliamentary election, Ugulava was suspended, on 22 December 2013, from his functions by a court for alleged misuse of funds. He was arrested in July 2014 on charges of money misspending and laundering in the funding of his party's campaign in June municipal elections. His supporters accused the government of politically motivated persecution of Ugulava.
On 6 January 2017, Ugulava was released from prison after the Tbilisi Court of Appeal requalified the misspending charges, found him guilty of exceeding official powers, acquitted him of money laundering charges, and shortened his sentence by three years and three months.
Shortly after his release he (along with several other senior members of the UNM) left the United National Movement to found a new political party: Movement for Freedom - European Georgia. The split occurred due to ideological and political differences between the elite and educated wing of the UNM, and its pro-Saakashvili populist supporters.
- "Georgian Court Suspends Tbilisi Mayor Amid Investigations". Radio Free Europe. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- "Georgia opposition leader Gigi Ugulava detained". BBC News. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- "Gigi Ugulava Released from Prison". Civil Georgia. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
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