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Former PM Gakharia Inaugurates New Political Party

Former Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia inaugurated today a new “for Georgia” political party. “We are uniting for Georgia but against no one,” said Gakharia at the inaugural congress, held in Expo Georgia exhibition center in Tbilisi, which elected him as its chairperson.

In his 37-minute speech, Gakharia, 46, listed the weakness of state institutions not trusted by citizens, the lack of social protection mechanisms, education reform, poverty, and unemployment, as some of the most pressing issues impeding the creation of “a fair and strong state.”

The former Prime Minister, who resigned in February over the detention of top opposition leader Nika Melia, also spoke extensively about the fight against corruption and nepotism and stressed the need for an independent investigative body that would address corruption cases on a daily basis.

Gakharia said his purple-turquoise color-branded party will seek to ensure the citizens have “fair and equal access” to opportunities and that having “privileged classes” is incompatible with a functioning democracy.

The former PM also remarked that the political parties should have a consensus about the Russian occupation and the European and Euro-Atlantic future. “Our citizens have long opted for a peaceful, non-violent development for the country.”

He asserted that ever since the independence restoration in 1991, every consecutive Georgian government moved to destroy the legacy of its predecessors, irrespective of the nature of the legacy. Citing high turnout despite the COVID pandemic for October 2020 parliamentary elections, Gakharia said the public has higher political culture than the political class.

Discussing the reasons behind his resignation in February, the former PM said the Georgian Dream party “drifted away from the reality” and considered handling the opposition as more important, than addressing the public’s concerns.

Accusing his former party colleagues of putting partisan interests above national, he noted that the governing party went as far as getting preoccupied with comparing even some of its greatest achievements to “the reality 10-15 years ago.” Gakharia said he acknowledges his share of responsibility that led to this reality.

“I am not afraid of speaking about anything I have done and took part in; and will carry on like before, answering to any questions [that may arise],” he said.

In the meantime, Gakharia will lead the 14-member political council of the new party, comprising of MPs Giorgi Khojevanishvili, Ana Buchukuri, Mikheil Daushvili, Beka Liluashvili, Aleksandre Motserelia, and Shalva Kereselidze; two former Government Administration Heads Natia Mezvrishvili and Kakhaber Kemoklidze, ex-Deputy Gov’t Administration Head Berdia Sichinava; ex-Head of Regional Liaison Department at the Gov’t Administration Kote Ananiashvili; Giorgi Goguadze, ex-Director of Georgian Center for Strategy and Development, local non-profit; Head of Administration at Shota Rustaveli Theater and Georgia State Film University Rusudan Tevzadze; former First Deputy Zugdidi Mayor Giga Parulava; Founder of Entrepreneur Magazine and Georgia Today newspaper Giorgi Sharashidze.

The new party presentation went amid loud protest by a group of civic and pro-opposition activists that reminded the former Georgian PM of the June 20-21, 2019 crackdown on anti-occupation protest and the death case of Ia Kerzaia, the school principal whom her family alleged died after being pressured to join ruling Georgian Dream party-endorsed candidate Salome Zurabishvili’s campaign in 2018 presidential polls. Gakharia served as Interior Minister during November 2017 – September 2019.

The Bio and the Background

Gakharia has been a highly polarizing figure in Georgian politics since the police raid in Tbilisi nightclubs in May 2018 and the police crackdown of anti-occupation unrest outside the Parliament building in June 2019.

According to recent polls, he regained the public’s favorability after widely-perceived successful handling of the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic under his premiership.

For instance, the IRI poll conducted in February and released in April showed former PM Giorgi Gakharia being the most favored politician with 65% favorability. Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze then said the ruling party’s high rating helped Gakharia, as he was still the PM during most of the poll fieldwork days.

Prior to serving as Interior Minister, Gakharia served as the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development between November 2016 to November 2017. From 2014 to 2016 he worked as Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia. From March 2013 to 2016 Gakharia was the Business Ombudsperson of Georgia, handling the disputes of the business community with the state.

Prior to his career in Georgian Dream administration, Gakharia worked and lived in Moscow, the Russian capital from 1994 until 2013. He worked as Director for Business Development & Government Relations for Europe, Russia & CIS at Lufthansa Service Holding AG, the German career’s food and services branch. From September 2006 to May 2009 Gakharia gave lectures in Applied Biotechnology at the Moscow State University.

Gakharia holds MBA in Management from Moscow State University’s Graduate School of Business Administration that he obtained in 2004. In 1994-99 Gakharia studied Political Science at Moscow State University.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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