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President accuses the government of provocations against him

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, August 30
President Mikheil Saakashvili has described an incident which occurred earlier this week in Piazza Square in Batumi as a "political provocation".

On Tuesday, Melor Vachnadze, a former political prisoner, got into a fight with Saakashvili's bodyguards on Piazza Square. A court in Batumi has fined Vachnadze 100 lari. Saakashvili has accused the current government of responsibility for the incident.

Saakashvili stated he is pleased with the public's friendliness towards him. However, he regretted that such incidents cause problems and a feeling of public insecurity.

"People applaud and embrace me. Apparently, the man [Vachnadze] who saw it on TV did not like it."

Saakashvili also expressed skepticism that insulting lawmakers or attacking the president is punished with only a 100 lari fine. In contrast, the president cited a recent incident where activists who put up posters at Dinamo stadium to oppose the arrival of the Russian deputy, were fined 1000 lari.

Saakashvili reiterated that he is not afraid of walking down the street of any town in Georgia, even without guards.

"The Piazza Square is the most crowded place in Batumi and there was not a single policeman present. It is clear that this event was arranged by the government. When the government lets people take the law into their own hands it means that the government is not fulfilling its functions." Saakashvili said.

Vachanadze claims he was provoked by the president’s bodyguards.

"I was there with my friends. After the president arrived, the bodyguards told me I had to leave…of course, I did not obey." Vachnadze said, before adding that he will appeal the court's fine.