A man has been arrested on setting fire to the Presidential Library, built upon initiative of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2013.
The Interior Ministry reported on April 19 that investigation has been launched under article 187 of the criminal code of Georgia, involving damage or destruction of property by setting fire that is punished by imprisonment for a term of three to five years.
The man live streamed the process of arsoning the library on Facebook, saying he intended to remove “a nest” from where “coronavirus is being spread, referring to former President Saakashvili and his teammates, whom he insulted using swear words. He also addressed police, saying that he would not run away.
The man identified by the Interior Ministry as B. K. had previous convictions.
Pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV identified the man as Badri (Bacho) Katamadze, who recently attacked the TV channel’s director general Nika Gvaramia in the yard of Tbilisi City Court; earlier he was involved in provocative actions against participants of protest rallies outside the Parliament in 2019.
Nika Gvaramia’s defense lawyer, Dimitri Sadzaglishvili said that the investigators did nothing to probe into the attack and “just that is why the man now feels free to set fire to the buildings.”
Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of Temirlan Machalikashvili, a terror-related case suspect, noted that Katamadze attacked activists during the 2019 rallies outside the Parliament. “He is under patronage of State Security Service and as a supporter of Georgian Dream, nobody will arrest him, no matter what crime he commits,” noted Machalikashvili.
Speaking at a news briefing on April 20, MP Tina Bokuchava of the United National Movement said “Badri Katamadze enjoys immunity as he is an agent of State Security Service.”
MP Bokuchava claimed that Katamadze was entitled conditional release from prison in 2018, and that after attacking Mtavari Arkhi’s Gvaramia in January, police officers only took him away from the incident site, with no charges being brought against him.
“Thus, the yesterday’s crime is the crime committed by the government, this is the face of Georgian Dream,” Bokuchava said.
“We call on the Public Defender, foreign diplomats and civil society organizations to follow the case in order to avoid further encouragement of a crime by his release,” she added.
Former President Mikheil Saakashvili also commented on the matter through his Facebook page. “The fact has not occurred accidentally. He is a security agent. They use persons [like him] during elections; that is a Russian style… This man will not be arrested,” he said.