Davit Kirkitadze, one of the leaders of the opposition United National Movement party, was arrested on December 17 on charges of assaulting a police officer, as well as damaging property. The opposition politician might face imprisonment from four to seven years.
Davit Kirkitadze was among the opposition leaders and activists who planned to hold a demonstration in Telavi on December 16, in parallel to the inauguration ceremony. He was actively involved in attempts to unblock the police cordons in village Velistsikhe, on the way to Telavi; in one of the video footages Kirkitadze is seen trying to force into the police bus.
Kirkitadze’s lawyer Giorgi Kondakhishvili said the detainee does not admit guilt, and considers his arrest politically-motivated. On December 18, the lawyer said Kirkitadze went on hunger strike.
The Interior Ministry said investigation into the Velistsikhe incident will continue. The police also reported that it will probe into the attack on Shota Dalakishvili, an opposition activist, who was beaten during the incident, reportedly by local ruling party supporters.
Opposition politicians met Kirkitadze’s arrest with fury.
Giorgi Vashadze of the United Opposition, a coalition of eleven parties led by the United National Movement, said the opposition politician “is an illegal prisoner.” Vashadze stressed the incidents on December 16 were “provoked” by the authorities.
“We notified the police in advance that a convoy would leave for Telavi at 9am, but they acted illegally; every action that people dressed as police officers carried out was illegal, and therefore, the demonstration participants had every right to unblock the road, and as announced, continue traveling to Telavi,” he noted.
MP Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia slammed the authorities as well, saying “arrest of Kirkitadze for incidents over illegitimate and unconstitutional actions of the police, drags Georgia deeper into the crisis that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s regime has caused.”
“Kirkitadze’s arrest does not concern Kirkitadze only; this is a brazen message from Ivanishvili’s regime to the entire opposition that only those groups that are affiliated with the regime hold the license to violence, illegal and unconstitutional actions,” Bokeria noted.
“Eventually, this illegal policy will backfire on Ivanishvili’s regime, but in the meantime, the country’s democracy, its normal development and prospects for stability might be compromised,” the lawmaker added.