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Vano Zardiashvili leaves his MP mandate

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, October 8
“In doing so, I once again demonstrate to the society that a public office is only a way to support your country and serve each citizen,” said former Georgian Dream MP Vano Zardiashvili in a statement announcing his resignation.

Zardiashvili’s resignation comes after a confrontation between him and independent MP Eka Beselia at a sitting of the Legal Committee of the Parliament two weeks ago. MP Beselia slapped Zardiashvili after he made degrading remarks about her.

The tension between the two MPs goes back before the incident, with Zardiashvili calling his former team member ‘a so-called rat’, for allegedly providing the media with inside information from the ruling party. While Beselia was against him being a part of her former team from the beginning.

“I have nothing to do with that twerp. Of course, one shouldn’t downgrade to his level, but I am not going to ignore the insults I heard,” Beselia said after the confrontation on September 26.

Zardiashvili says in a statement that the truth is on his side, but he doesn't want to be a source of provocation. He claims that since coming into politics, there has been a smear campaign going on against him.

“During this disgusting, malicious three-year campaign, they found zero proof, no evidence of anything I did that was unlawful or anything wrong,” writes the former MP.

While the members of the ruling team praised Zardiashvili for his decision, opposition, including an independent MP Beselia, had different ideas of who and how made the decision.

“Vano Zardiashvili made an honorable and right decision and a statement in this regard,” said the Chairperson of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze. “I think by doing this, Vano Zardiashvili has shown us all and the public that position, status is not the objective, it is only a means to serve our country, society. …I want to thank him on behalf of our team,” he added.

Beselia stated that the decision wasn’t made by Zardishvili but her former close ally Bidzina Ivanishvili, a former Prime Minister of Georgia and leader of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. According to her, after the confrontation, you could tell by Zardiashvili’s interviews that he wasn’t planning to go anywhere.

“I assure you, Zardiashvili hasn’t gone anywhere himself. This is not a person who has any dignity and can give up something that’s comfortable for him. He was made to leave his mandate. They made him make this decision. I do not care what Zardiashvili wrote in the statement, because it is written by someone else” said Beselia.

According to Beselia, Zardiashvili was strongly defended by what she calls a ‘clan’ that the opposition and NGOs claim the former MP is a part of, along with several high-profile judges. The independent MP notes that while being part of the ruling team she asked Ivanishvili to remove Zardiashvili from the party, because of his connections to the previous United National Movement (UNM) government.

“Zardiashvili, on the one hand, was associated with the darkest side of the UNM, and on the other hand, his actions were beyond any morals, so they decided that he should resign,” noted political expert Khatuna Lagazidze with IPN. “The Georgian Dream is forced to take care of its own image [ahead of the 2020 elections] and one of the important directions of this reset is distancing itself from those who were a part of the UNM past,” she added.

Zardiashvili claims that his decision is not related to Beselia in any way.

“In no case does it relate to this woman. On the contrary, if it had to do with her, I would not have resigned,” Zardiashvili told reporters. “I will rest a bit. I won’t have trouble finding a job in either the public or private sector,” he added and noted that he will remain in the GD party.

Vano Zardiashvili has been a member of the party since the 2016 parliamentary elections. Prior to that, he served in the State Audit Office as a First Deputy Auditor General for three years.

During the rule of the UNM, Zardiashvili served at different times at the Ministry of Justice, was Assistant to the Security Minister, Advisor to the Prosecutor General, and also worked at the Tbilisi City Hall.

After the incident with Beselia, the Georgian media took interest in Zardiashvili’s various properties accumulated throughout his time in office.

As of 2012, Zardiashvili had only one real estate property – a 117.0 sq.m apartment in Tbilisi, which he purchased in 2011 for 90 000 USD.

According to his property declarations, after 2013, Zardiashvili and his wife, Tinatin Abralava, bought 5 apartments and 1 commercial property in Tbilisi. In addition, according to the Public Registry, in August 2017, Abralava purchased 3 more apartments.