skip to content

Calls for Criminal Charges against MPs

Opposition lawmaker Gia Tsagareishvili has asked the General Prosecutor’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings against two MPs from the ruling party who allegedly beat him up on September 18.

Eka Beselia, a lawyer acting on behalf of MP Tsagareishvili, said on September 19 that there was “more than enough evidence” to charge two lawmakers, Koba Dvalishvili and Vakhtang Balavadze, with the assault on Tsagareishvili.

Both lawmakers confirmed on September 18 that an incident had taken place outside the parliament. Dvalishvili said that, unlike Balavadze, he had been directly involved in a scuffle with Tsagareishvili, but said he had been “provoked.”

Balavadze told reporters that he had phoned Tsagareishvili and requested to meet in order to discuss the latter’s recent “insulting remarks.” Tsagareishvili told reporters on September 14 that “all male lawmakers from the ruling party are dishonest.”

“I met with Gia [Tsagareishvili] and this meeting was about his recent remarks,” Balavadze told Imedi TV. “We talked and he acknowledged that he had made politically incorrect statements and even apologized and then I left.” 

“After I left, Koba Dvalishvili approached Gia Tsagareishvili and started to talk with him,” Balavadze continued. “As far as I know, during this conversation, Gia [Tsagareishvili] verbally insulted Koba Dvalishvili, which resulted in a minor scuffle for less than a minute.”

Tsagareishvili reportedly had minor injuries to his head and spent a few hours in hospital late on September 18.

Allegations emerged on September 19 that a third lawmaker from the ruling party, Giorgi Imnadze, was also involved in the incident.

Opposition lawmakers promptly described the incident as a politically-motivated act designed to intimidate opposition MPs.

“This incident demonstrates that the authorities are trying to terrorize opposition lawmakers,” opposition lawmaker Koka Guntsadze said on September 18. “It was an obvious case of settling political scores.”

Guntsadze and Tsagareishvili are both affiliated with ex-defense minister Irakli Okruashvili’s planned political party.

Meanwhile, two other lawmakers, Teo Tlashadze and Keti Makharashvili, who are also affiliated with the ex-defense minister and who have just recently defected from the ruling party, are trying to garner support among parliamentarians for a statement condemning the incident.

“It was a deliberate and pre-planned persecution of a political opponent,” Makharashvili said.

Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani, who is a lawmaker from the ruling party, however, defended his colleagues’ behavior.

“Tsagareishvili should apologize for what he said,” Machavariani told Mze TV on September 19. “When you say something like that you should know that someone will react, because this is Georgia and the Georgian mentality makes you react when you are insulted.”

Meanwhile, MP Tsagareishvili’s lawyer, Eka Beselia, said she was surprised by the General Prosecutor’s Office’s “inaction.”

“In their comments, both Balavadze and Dvalishvili have actually pleaded guilty to being involved in a politically-motivated physical assault on a political figure, which is a grave crime,” she told reporters on September 19 outside the General Prosecutor’s Office. “I am surprised that the General Prosecutor’s Office still has not responded to this serious offence.”

Although MPs enjoy a certain level of immunity, law enforcement agencies are still entitled to initiate criminal charges against a lawmaker if criminal wrongdoing is suspected.

The alleged assault is not the first time allegations of this kind have emerged. An opposition lawmaker from the Republican Party, Valeri Gelashvili, (he was expelled from Parliament in 2006), was attacked and brutally beaten up by a group of masked and armed men in downtown Tbilisi in July 2005.

Opposition parties alleged that the attack was masterminded by the authorities in retaliation for Gelashvili’s insulting criticism of President Saakashvili and his family. No one has been held responsible for the attack on Gelashvili.


Back to top button