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Opposition leader and ex-Minister Alex Petriashvili shot

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 29
One of the leaders of the parliamentary opposition Free Democrats (FD) and Georgia’s ex-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alex Petriashvili, survived after receiving three gunshot wounds by an unidentified person early on February 26.

Doctors say that after being operated on at the Republican Hospital, Petriashvili’s health condition is “stable” and he will recover without major complications.

The medics said Petriashvili suffered three gunshots, two in lower legs and one in his back, with a bullet lodged near the kidney.

The Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Giorgi Mgebrishvili, visited the patient at the hospital and promised a timely investigation into the attack.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who responded to the incident shortly after it took place, said he was “shocked” and also demanded an urgent investigation into the “horrible incident”.

Members of the Free Democrats stated that the fact that Petriashvili was so openly attacked in the daytime indicated a “weak government” and “problems in the law-enforcement system.”

The same was said by members of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party.

The President’s advisor in political issues, Pikria Chikhradze, claimed there still seemed to be problems in terms of criminal activity.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili stated for his part that he was sure the crime would soon be investigated and refrained from commenting on crime levels in the country.

A member of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, Nukri Kantaria, who arrived at the hospital shortly after Petriashvili was brought there, said the attack was likely to be motivated by “personal, rather than political grounds”.

Georgia’s Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli stated she was concerned by the incident but said that there was no proof that surveillance had been carried out against members of the opposition by the Government, as in this case no one would shoot Petriashvili.

Petriashvili’s wife, the famous Georgian journalist Ekaterine Mishveladze, said she had no information concerning the motive of the “horrible attack” and promised those who committed this and wanted to kill her husband would definitely be sent behind bars.

Petriashvili was attacked in the early hours when visiting the grave of his friend Levan Mikeladze at the Saburtalo cemetery; he was there with three other people.

Dormer deputy Health Minister Kakha Sakandelidze was one of the men who was with Petriashvili at the cemetery, and said that two people attacked Petriashvili, one of whom had his face uncovered, but he claims it will still be difficult for him to recognize the attacker.

He added that only one of the assailants had a firearm, but both of them had batons.

Petriashvili also suffered a head injury allegedly caused by a blunt object according to his doctors.

An investigation has been immediately launchedm and several witnesses have already been questioned.

Petriashvili was appointed as Georgia’s Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration after the 2012 parliamentary race and performed the role till November 2014.

He resigned after the leader of FD Irakli Alasania was fired by ex-Prime Minister Irakli Alasania, as Alasania said that Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic choice was at risk after several of his employees were detained for allegedly misspending budgetary funds.

Alasania said the detention of his employees was the result of government machinations, and the true motive was that the Government did not like his success as Defence Minister, which he claimed brought Georgia closer to Euro-Atlantic structures.