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Gakharia requests hearing at Parliament, protesters demand his resignation

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, June 25
This Monday, Chairman of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili announced that parliamentary elections of 2020 will be held with a proportional system – after 4 days of rally, 240 injured protesters, 305 detainees, and sessions of Majority and political council, one of the demands was met.

Two requests of the protesters remain unanswered, and they plan to continue rallies until the Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia resigns and all detainees that were captured on June 20 night are released. They also demand punishment of the law enforcers that exceeded the power.

Protest rallies started in Tbilisi and other cities on June 20, after it became known that the Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Orthodox Church, the Communist MP of the Russian Duma, Sergei Gavrilov was holding the Assembly session from the place of the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia.

Several hours after the protest started, one group of the rally tried to break the police cordon and enter the building of the Georgian Parliament. Law enforcers dispersed demonstrators using special means, including rubber bullets, which preceded the entry into force of parliament. Many were injured and hospitalized.

The MIA stated that on that night, the peaceful demonstration on Rustaveli Ave. was transformed into a violent attack on police, which forced law enforcers to use the measures allowed by the law. Gakharia said that “destructive opposition forces,” which managed to transform the Georgian people’s “fair and sincere protest” into violence, fled the scene when unrest erupted and abandoned demonstrators.

When asked about that demand of Gakharia’s dismissal, Ivanishvili much like the Prime-Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze abstained from answering the question. Mayor of the capital, Kaladze didn’t comment either and only noted that “there was no talk about it” at the session of the political council.

One of the leaders of the Georgian Dream party Tamar Chugoshvili said in response to this question that the ruling party does not see the issue of political responsibility of Gakharia on the events of June 20.

The minister of regional development, Maia Tskitishvili also mentioned that there’s a consensus within the team - the interior minister is not responsible. She said that it’s “National Movement” that is trying to demonstrate that MIA was guilty of the process. “Peaceful protests went beyond the peaceful format, and we saw violence coming from some part of the protesters. The police kept patiently defending their state and state institutions for several hours, and they had to stop the aggression,” said Maia Tskitishvili.

Interestingly, Gakharia didn’t make any comments about the request of his resignation. On June 24, he requested Parliament in an official letter to allow him to speak about the June 20-21 developments and rallies in Tbilisi at the parliament’s plenary session.

It’s noteworthy that the minister has visited Parliament five times this year to speak and answer legislators’ questions.

General Inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been studying possible abuse of power from the police force at the mentioned night. On June 24 Acting Director of Central Criminal Police Department Mamuka Chelidze stated at the briefing that 10 law enforcement officers were suspended from duty due to possible abuse of power during the June 20-21 rally in central Tbilisi. As reported by Chelidze, two law enforcement officers are among the 10 that demonstrated signs of criminal offense and accordingly, materials will be sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office for a reaction.

Chleidze also announced that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia expresses its readiness to cooperate with the investigation and submit to the Prosecutor General’s Office all the materials obtained during the investigation process.

Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia will be heard in the Parliament on June 28. The expected date of hearing the minister was announced at the Bureau session on June 24, but the final decision was not yet received.

Bakhtadze will visit Parliament this week as well. He will submit the annual report to the Parliament on June 27.