The opposition demands answers concerning the bloody dispersal of an opposition rally in Tbilisi on June 20 – headed by the then Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia
“I want to declare that I’m not going to go anywhere – I will finish you,” said Prime Minister candidate Giorgi Gakharia, who met with the opposition United National Movement in parliament today.
The Georgian parliament has been abuzz this week – on 2 September, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced his resignation.
Billionaire and head of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili nominated Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia in his place.
Many see Gakharia as a problematic figure, given that he is considered to be responsible for the brutal dispersal of protesters on the night of June 20 in Tbilisi. Since then, there have been protests calling for his resignation.
Instead of resigning, he may soon become prime minister.
Gakharia has already presented his proposed cabinet members to the parliament. Throughout the week, potential ministers have presented their plans and programmes to MPs.
On September 6, Gakharia was to answer the questions of opposition MPs. However, a dialogue did not take place – the meeting came to an abrupt end.
The meeting began with a screening by the United National Movement of a music video on a large screen – a video depicting the dispersal of the rally on June 20. The background music was a song which young people ‘dedicated’ to Gakharia.
“When a bullet flies into the children, Gakharia rejoices,” the lyrics of the song say, urging citizens out onto the streets.
During the demonstration of the video, members of the future cabinet were also in the hall along with the candidate for the premiere.
The cameras of journalists were aimed at their faces when the video began playing.
Facebook users were particularly outraged by the fact that some of the candidates for the ministers were smiling when the rally dispersal footage was demonstrated.
პარლამენტში ნაციონალებმა გახარიას მომავალ მთავრობას "გახარიას უხარია" ჩაურთეს
Posted by NEWS.On.ge on პარასკევი, 06 სექტემბერი, 2019
After the clip was shown, deputies of the National Movement asked Gakharia a number of questions.
The main topic was the June 20 rally dispersal, and who gave the order to brutally disperse protesters.
Opposition members called Gakharia a “killer” and “executioner.”
Salome Samadashvili, a member of the United National Movement, brought up the story of the director of a school in Zugdidi, Ia Kerzaia.
The Ia Kerzaia case+
The director of school No. 6 in Zugdidi, Ia Kerzaia, died of a stroke in December 2008. Shortly before that, she publicly stated that she has been asked to support the pro-government candidate Salome Zurabishvili in the presidential election.
After she refused, her school was inspected by the Ministry of Education. Members of the Kerzaia family claim that the cause of her death was pressure from the authorities.
In response, Giorgi Gakharia told the deputies that they are ‘ordinary street opposition’ and will ‘remain on the street in 2020.’
“What is happening now shows the face of the United National Movement – lies, deceit, the impact on people of a simulated reality. You did this not only during your nine years in power, but continue to do so today.
“And our goal is to convey the truth to people every day,” said Giorgi Gakharia.
During the meeting, protesters against Gakharia’s candidacy for the premiership gathered outside the parliament, chanting “shame.” The police did not let them into the building.
The opposition, who was in the conference room, demanded that citizens be allowed into the building.
After being refused, the opposition MPs ended the meeting and left the hall.
• Since the dispersal of the protest on June 20 by the Georgian parliament, in Tbilisi and other Georgian cities protest have been held demanding that Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia resign.
However, instead of resigning, per the decision of the country’s informal leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, Gakharia was tapped to become the country’s next PM. Parliament will vote on his candidacy on September 8. Considering that the ruling party enjoys a majority in the parliament, Gakharia is likely to be approved.
• The June 20 protests began after thousands of people came out onto the street to express their dissatisfaction over the arrival of Russian MP Sergey Lavrov, who came to Tbilisi to participate in the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.
Georgian citizens were outraged that Gavrilov opened the assembly in Russian, and did so from the parliamentary speaker’s chair. Moreover, Gavrilov is an open supporter of independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Thousands of people gathered in front of the parliament to ask the government – “How did an MP from an occupying country dare to take the seat of the speaker of the Georgian parliament?”
In the morning of June 21, special forces were brought in to disperse protesters, using rubber bullets and tear gas. More than 200 people were injured – two lost one of their eyes. Gakharia says that the police acted legitimately, and prevented a storm of the parliament and consequently, a coup d’état.