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Republican Member’s Statement Sparks Controversy in Parliament

Recent statements made by political analyst Paata Zakareishvili, who is a member of the opposition Republican party, have triggered controversy between the parliamentarians from the ruling National Movement party and the Republican party. The latter has accused the ruling party of staging “simple and shameful provocations” against them, while the National Movement accused the Republicans of making “unfair” statements and adopting an anti-state approach.

“There is political reputation, which has a certain price and it [the statement] will cost you much from the political point of view,” MP Giga Bokeria of the National Movement said in Parliament on April 24, referring to the parliamentarians from the Republican party.

On April 24 the parliamentary majority and a group of students slammed Paata Zakareishvili for making “harmful and irresponsible” statements. Zakareishvili said on Rustavi 2 television on April 22 that the Zugdidi section of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security (DCS) was behind the Georgian students who have become very active on Abkhaz issues recently. The TV story was about three Georgian students arrested by Abkhaz militias on Martch 1.

However, speaking with Imedi television on April 23, Zakareishvili explained that he was not speaking about the three Georgian activists in particular. He said that he meant those who had become very active during the so-called elections in the breakaway region in February-March. The DCS, he said, was behind them, and they were terrorizing the local population.

Tension escalated on April 23 when a group of students burst into the offices of the Republican party, where party leaders were holding a news briefing, which had to be cancelled.

“The students should have shown restraint and refrained from bursting into your offices. I want to call on the students to show restraint,” Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said. She denied having called on the Republican party to condemn Zakareishvili’s position.   

“We have to deal with a planned provocation, however this provocation will not endanger our image and reputation,” MP Ivliane Khaindrava of the Republican party told Parliament.

However, Giga Bokeria said that the ruling party was not interested in staging provocations against the Republican party.

“Instead of saying that his words were misrepresented or he was mistaken, he [Zakareishvili] said that he meant something even worse. He said that the Gali population was being terrorized by the Georgian authorities,“ Bokeria said.

“Unlike our northern neighbor [referring to Russia] or Kokoity’s and Bagapsh’s regimes [South Ossetian and Abkhaz leaders, respectively], one can freely express one’s opinion in our country… But at the same time, our opponents should not forget that freedom of speech is for everybody, and when you say such things, you will receive the assessments you deserve,” he added.

A concept paper on the status of Abkhazia within the Georgian state, developed by the Republican party, was also cause for more angry debate in parliament.

According to MP Nodar Grigalashvili of the National Movement, the concept paper outlined that “Abkhazia will be a sovereign state entity within the Georgian state,  which will have equal and partner relations with the central authorities.”

However, MP Davit Zurabishvili reminded the ruling majority that “MP Davit Bakradze of the National Movement and Kote Kublashvili, Chairman of the Supreme Court were also the authors of this concept paper.” 

Later, however, Bakradze denied this.


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