Ruling Georgian Dream party elects controversial figure new leader
Despite ongoing protests, a new leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party was elected. The Party Congress held on January, 16 unanimously supported the candidacy of the former speaker of Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze.
Since 2018, the ruling party has been led by Bidzina Ivanishvili – a billionaire and the de facto ruler of Georgia. However, on January 11, Ivanishvili released an open letter in which he announced that he would no longer lead the party and quit politics altogether.
Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, will continue to serve as the party’s general secretary, and former director of the Public Broadcaster, Vasil Maglaperidze, will serve as deputy.
In his speech, Irakli Kobakhidze thanked Ivanishvili for “defeating a regime based on lies and violence and laying the foundations of a new democratic order in 2012”. He said that Georgian Dream is a progressive parliamentary and government team with eight years of experience and is ready to “continue its work with a new attitude.”
The speaker of the new parliament, Archil Talakvadze, said that Ivanishvili became the guarantor of freedom, peace, and stability, and the party’s supporters “are waiting for the next steps forward”.
During the sitting of the party congress, opposition activists took it to the streets to protest against the falsification of the parliamentary elections held on October 31, 2020. The entire opposition in Georgia supports this assessment, all eight parties that entered parliament have given up their seats. Thus, on December 11, 2020, a new parliament began work in Georgia, in which only the ruling party is represented.
Nine activists with an “Elections Stolen” banner were detained on charges of petty hooliganism and insubordination to the police, but they were released immediately after the ruling party’s congress was over.
Irakli Kobakhidze and the summer 2019 protests
Irakli Kobakhidze is the leader of the majority in the current parliament and the former chairman of the previous parliament, which was associated with one of the biggest scandals in the history of Georgian politics.
On June 20, 2019, a meeting of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy was held in the Georgian parliament, and its leader, Russian communist MP, Sergei Gavrilov, sat in the chair of the then speaker of parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze. Large demonstrations followed and riot gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets were deployed against the demonstrators.
In total, about three hundred people were injured. The Ombudsman for Human Rights in Georgia believes that the investigation of those events “was focused only on crimes committed by ordinary policemen, but could not objectively and fully assess the responsibility of the country’s leadership.”