"He insulted the Church" - an opposition figure was wounded in Georgia, a youth camp was destroyed
Attack on Zurab Japaridze “Girchi”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia is investigating two incidents connected to the leader of the opposition party “Girchi More Freedom” Zurab Japaridze that happened on June 17.
Zurab Japaridze was attacked in Gori, leaving him wounded in the eye area.
An attack by an aggressive group on the youth camp “Girchi” in Borjomi, where a training organized by the Institute of Individual Freedom had been scheduled to take place.
Zurab Japaridze had pulled up outside a Smart store near the town of Gori (about 30 km from Tbilisi). A man approached and asked him to roll down the car window. When the window opened, he punched the politician in the face. Japaridze suffered eye and head injuries and had to go to the hospital.
Soon, Soso Maisuradze, a resident of Gori, said on social networks that it was him who had attacked the Girchi leader, accusing him of “seducing children and insulting the Church.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed to the Georgia newsroom of Radio Liberty that one person had been detained as part of an open criminal investigation under Article 126 (“violence”).
An aggressive group of about 60 people arrived at a hotel in Borjomi, where they were to receive training from the Institute for Individual Liberty. It was there that Zurab Japaridze had been headed. The attackers threw stones at the participants of the training, shouted insults and poured red paint over the building and street furniture of the hotel and cars parked on the territory.
The organizers of the training accuse the police of arriving at the scene only after 40 minutes.
The conservative movement “Georgia First” took responsibility for the action.
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“Zura Japaridze was going de to poison the minds of young people once again”
Vato Shakarishvili, a former member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, wrote on social media that Zurab Japaridze was “punished for insulting the Patriarch and the Church.”
Shakarishvili wrote this post shortly after the attack and was the first to respond to the incident.
“Zura Girchi Japaridze “the one that lowered his pants” went to Borjomi to poison our youth (supposedly to conduct a training). A Georgian approached him and asked: “Lower the window, I want to tell you something.”
It was a response for insulting our Patriarch and the Church. That kind man went his own way, and “Zura, with his pants down” had to return to Tbilisi,” Shakarishvili wrote.
“We teach young people to think, and they try to discredit us”
In the Girchi More Freedom party, the attack on Zurab Japaridze and the youth camp is considered part of a discrediting campaign organized by the authorities.
“Through these camps, we talk to young people, give lectures on how politics is created, how the economy works. And for a long time [the pro-government channel] Imedi and all the media propaganda of the Georgian Dream have been trying, on the one hand, to discredit these camps, the liberal academy, and on the other hand, to intimidate the parents of these children, these children, so that no one else will have desire to listen to our lectures.
Now this is not just a campaign to discredit, now we are already being physically threatened,” Girchi member Badri Grigalashvili said in an interview with the Formula TV channel.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs opened two more new cases with a political context
This weekend, two more incidents occurred in Tbilisi related to the political confrontation between part of society and the authorities.
1. At Tbilisi State University, a group of students tried to hold a protest against their lecturer, Georgian Dream leader Irakli Kobakhidze. The police took banners from the students and forcibly dragged them down the stairs. A case has been opened under Article 126 (“violence”).
2. One of the students, Luka Shvelidze, had to be taken to hospital after the scuffle in the university. This is where another incident took place, and another criminal case was launched, now under article 353 – “attack on a police officer”.
The student and his family say that a man had broke in is hospital ward and threatened him with a weapon. However, other witnesses claim that the student and several of his relatives had beaten an Interior Ministry officer who’d come to take a statement.