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Clash in Gardabani

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 30
A special operations unit was involved in a riot that erupted in the Gardabani region on May 29. Some say that the clash was based on a political dispute, while others claim that it has a certain ethnical basis as the region is mainly inhabited by ethnic Azeri population. The Ministry of Interior Affairs has already launched an investigation over the issue.

According to the witness the riot started in a cafe. The crowd moved out of the cafe and started to beat one another with clubs and stones.

Witnesses claim that about two hundred men were involved in the riot. Some say the argument that triggered it had political motives and the people involved in it were supporters of the UNM opposition party and the Georgian Dream ruling coalition.

Others say the argument started on ethnic grounds. The situation was discharged after the police crews arrived and separated the parties.

The police did not arrest any of the persons involved in the clash, however, they have built up a criminal case with charges of hooliganism.

Head of the National Movement’s organization in Gardabani, Ramin Bayramov says that the brawl was started by an aggressive team of young people who attacked the supporters of the United National Movement sitting at the cafe. According to him, the young people did not stop the aggression even after the police came to the scene.

“An Azeri police officer was also beaten,” he claims, stressing that if such crimes are not investigated, and the provocateurs are not punished, there will be negative consequences for the country.

A special statement has been made by the United National Movement. They called on the government to provide a fair and immediate investigation of the incident.

Gigi Ugulava, the head of the UNM election headquarters, and Khatuna Gogorishvili assessed the fact as politically motivated.

“This assault obviously had political grounds. The most alarming is the terminology used by the GD activists against their opponents yesterday in Gardabani. We witnessed insulting statements both on political and ethnic grounds. We urge the government to investigate this case immediately and effectively and not in the way they have investigated other attacks on UNM members,” Ugulava said.

According to head of the Georgian Dream’s organization in Gardabani, Maviz Zeinabov, there was no ethnic confrontation and the clash was artificially caused by the members of the UNM. He stressed that the locals have lived together for years without any ethnic conflict.

Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani has addressed all sides and have called on them to keep calm. She stated that such fights affect the state’s image and disturbs the peaceful election environment.

The Governor of Gardabani, Ambako Avaliani, stated that the clash was related to the pre-election period and was provoked by the UNM Gardabani organization head. Avaliani blamed Bayramov and his gang for causing certain unrest during prior elections.

The head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, told The Messenger that certain disputes between the supporters of the UNM and GD might happen. However, according to him, the clashes are more local than supported or encouraged by the central government. “Such facts will not come closer to the pressure and violence that was exercised by the UNM leadership in terms of political opponents,” the analyst said, stressing that the UNM permanently tries to display itself as politically oppressed, especially in the eyes of the international community. “In the case if a party similar to the UNM had come to power, the UNM would have already been destroyed. The Georgian Dream practically saved the UNM,” Kakhishvili said.