The United Opposition, a coalition led by the United National Movement (UNM), reports increased violence against its activists and supporters in the run-up to the Presidential runoff on November 28, and criticizes the authorities’ handling of the incidents.
The allegations follow two recent cases of violence – one in Oni Municipality on November 22, when United Opposition’s local coordinator Nodar Burdiladze was stabbed, and another one in Gurjaani Municipality on November 23, when three Molotov cocktails were thrown to the yard of a local opposition coordinator, Elmira Betsiashvili.
The opposition politicians underline that all previous cases of violence targeting their activists and involving known Georgian Dream supporters, including the one in Akhalkalaki were left without due response. They claim the authorities have failed to properly investigate the cases and punish the perpetrators.
“Such impunity breeds an atmosphere of violence, which threatens the peaceful, democratic process in the lead-up to the runoff presidential election,” the coalition told Civil.Ge on November 23.
MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, who leads the Georgian Dream’s parliamentary faction, dismissed the opposition’s allegations. In a special press briefing on November 22, Mdinaradze said Kakha Isakadze, the man who stabbed Burdiladze, had no relation with the ruling party.
The lawmaker accused the opposition of politicizing the incident. “If previously, the UNM’s working method was dictatorship and brutality, their working method now, in the opposition is propagation of lies,” he noted.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement as well, saying Nodar Burdiladze was stabbed at night near his house in Oni. According to the version, the suspect was drunk and was visiting a friend in Burdiladze’s neighbourhood. The Police said Burdiladze was stabbed after he verbally confronted Isakadze for being loud, and asked him to leave the area.
Burdiladze remains hospitalized at the time of writing.