Zurab Shainidze, an opposition member of the municipality council (Sakrebulo) of Adigeni in southern Georgia, accused the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party activists of beating him and his family members. Shainidze, who represents the European Georgia party in Sakrebulo, said the incident occurred on June 28 during a traditional festival, Shuamtoba.
According to the Sakrebulo member, the incident began with a scuffle between his son’s friends and another group of local youth over the former’s refusal to play football with them. In Shanidze’s words, the situation was defused shortly after he interfered, but later, several dozen of GDDG’s youth wing activists attacked them with wooden sticks.
As a result, Zurab Shainidze and two young men were hospitalized with injuries in their heads, limbs and back, according to Akhaltsikhe-based Samkhretis Karibche.
Shainidze told media that it was a “politically-motivated” reprisal and that similar incidents have been a regular occurrence since the 2017 municipal elections.
Speaking at a news briefing on July 30, MP Otar Kakhidze of the European Georgia said the incident was “a result of the political hatred nurtured by the GDDG” and “a continuation of unpunished facts of violence” committed by its activists. Kakhidze then emphasized that “direct responsibility” rests with the ruling party and urged the authorities to bring all perpetrators to justice.
Commenting the incident, the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party stressed there were no political motives behind the incident and that it distances itself from any manifestation of violence. “We hope that the investigation will establish the truth and all perpetrators will be punished duly,” the party said in a statement released on July 29.
The Georgian Interior Ministry said that investigation has been launched under Article 126 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, involving beating or other violence committed by a group of persons that is punishable by community service from 180 to 240 hours or by imprisonment for a term of up to two years.