Who is new PM Gakharia and who made it to his ‘new’ team?
By Levan Abramishvili
Monday, September 9
Giorgi Gakharia has been approved as the Prime Minister of Georgia with 98 votes in favor and zero against at the parliamentary hearing yesterday. Even though the previous PM Bakhtadze resigned, the list of the ministers hasn’t changed much.
The position of the Minister of Internal Affairs left vacant after Gakharia’s promotion was filled by the former head of the State Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri. While Irakli Gharibashvili, a former PM (2013-2015) replaced Levan Izoria as the Minister of Defense. The rest of the ministers have remained the same:
Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport - Mikheil Batiashvili;
Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture - Levan Davitashvili;
Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development - Natia Turnava;
Minister of Justice - Tea Tsulukiani;
Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs - Ekaterine Tikaradze;
Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure - Maia Tskitishvili;
Minister of Foreign Affairs - David Zalkaliani;
Minister of Finance - Ivane Machavariani;
State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality - Ketevan Tsikhelashvili.
Both Natia Turnava and Ekaterine Tirakadze have recently assumed the office in the past few months after their predecessors stepped down from the respective positions. The only minister who hasn't changed is Tea Tsulukiani, who was appointed as the Minister of Justice of Georgia in October 2012, after the ruling ‘Georgian Dream’ (GD) rose to power. She has managed to hold onto her position even after the fifth PM from the GD assumed the office.
Gakharia, a polarizing figure, has become a main target of protests after a rally was dispersed on the night of June 20-21 under his orders. After an attempt of one group to break into the parliament building, the police used rubber bullets and tear gas against the demonstrators, several hundreds of who were severely wounded, some lost eyesight to the bullets.
To this day, the protestors, who have occupied Rustaveli avenue since June 20, have had only one demand remaining, after some of the initial demands were met by the government. The sole demand was for Gakharia to resign for the dispersal, dubbed as the ‘Gavrilov night’, after the Russian lawmaker whose presence at the Georgian Parliament sparked the initial protests.
The former Prime Minister of Georgia and chairman of the ruling 'Georgian Dream' party, Bidzina Ivanishvili said that Gakharia’s resignation from the position of the Interior Minister would be a ‘betrayal of the homeland.’
He said that people who tried to enter the parliament building by force wanted a coup and nothing more.
“What did they want, entering the parliament by force, if not a coup? Of course, this is what they wanted, and if Gakharia resigns, it would mean that the MIA no longer exists,” said Ivanishvili, before promoting Gakharia to be the next Prime Minister of Georgia.
Gakharia had held the position of Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice Prime Minister since November 13, 2017.
Prior to his appointment as Minister of the Interior in, he was the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development in 2016-2017 and a Secretary of the Economic Council in 2014-2016. Previously, from March 2013 to July 2016, Gakharia held the position of the Business Ombudsman of Georgia.
Before assuming various high-ranking positions in Georgia, he held a position of Director for Business Development and Government Relations for Europe, Russia, and CIS at Lufthansa Service Holding AG. LSG in Frankfurt, Germany. He also owned “Sky Food” Group Company where he served as a General Manager as well as lead A-Edam Group in Moscow, Russia.
Prior to joining public service, Mr. Gakharia held a position of Director for Business Development and Government Relations for Europe, Russia, and CIS at Lufthansa Service Holding AG. LSG in Frankfurt, Germany. He also owned “Sky Food” Group Company where he served as a General Manager as well as lead A-Edam Group in Moscow, Russia. Previously, Mr. Gakharia served as an analyst Foundation for Effective Politics in Moscow, Russia.
Gakharia holds Master’s Degree in Political Science and an MBA in Management from Moscow State University as well as an undergraduate degree in History from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.
From 2000 until 2016 Giorgi Gakharia was a citizen of the Russian Federation.
During his time as the Minister of Interior, Gakharia managed to make himself memorable for the general public with numerous notorious cases, including, but not limited to the raiding of several Tbilisi nightclubs, which was followed by rallies, as well as a special operation in Pankisi and writer Zviad Ratiani case.
The previous PM Mamuka Bakhtadze, who had held the position for just over a year, announced his resignation with a Facebook post on September 2.
Ivanishvili nominated Giorgi Gakharia for the position of the Prime Minister on September 3, after the session of the political council of the ruling party.