Ex-Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and his former party colleagues from the Georgian Dream party are trading accusations less than a month before crucial october 2 local elections.
In an interview with TV Pirveli, a channel critical to the GD government, the former Prime Minister said on September 3 that the primary reason for his resignation in February was not the case of opposition leader Nika Melia, but his realization that the GD leadership was “not willing to put state interests above party interests.”
Gakharia argued that the Georgian Dream will dissolve after October 2 elections. When the ruling party possesses no resources to govern the country in a dignified manner, and the opposition has no resources to withstand the government, the status quo will change, he asserted.
The former PM said GD has lost the connection to the ideals with which it entered politics, also adding that the ruling party’s ambitions “went into space.”
Gakharia further argued that the Georgian electorate feels despair and injustice and that people will respond to the country leadership as they feel right. “These boys, that I call bosses [meaning GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze and PM Irakli Garibashvili, among others] also feel that.”
Continuing on the elections, former PM said Samtskhe-Javakheti Governor Besik Amiranashvili put political pressure on one of his supporter’s mother and aunt in Akhaltsikhe and dismissed them from their jobs.
He then went on to suggest that snap parliamentary elections in 2022 are in the best interest of the GD so that to maintain its supperters’ base and to share its responsibility with other political forces.
Asked what he felt when Garibashvili called him “a sly traitor” [in Megrelian-Georgian both of which is native to Gakharia], the former PM said “I was a bit heartbroken about the [state of] the Prime Minister as an institution… He should have a bit better advisors.”
Continuing about his successor, Gakharia said in 2019 he appointed Garibashvili as a Defense Minister “because I considered Irakli Garibashvili would make a better Defense Minister than Interior Minister.”
The former PM noted that GD’s recent EU-related steps should not be seen as GD veering Georgia from the West to the Kremlin. It represents “an attempt by the government clinging to power to raise emotions in the election context with [these] cheap, damaging and subversive so called patriotic remarks,” he said.
The ex-PM briefly spoke of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the GD founder and former PM, noting that Ivanishvili has made “a large contribution to the country.”
PM Garibashvili Responds
“I will remind Gakharia from here, that I gave him a name already and so did everyone, including the party founder [Bidzina Ivanishvili]. Every citizen knows what he did – it is betrayal what he did,” the Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili responded to his predecessor the next day.
Responding to Gakharia’s remarks on the “destruction” of the institutions, Garibashvili said former PM’s refusal to execute the law by resigning over Melia’s detention amounted to weakening the prime minister’s institution. “He fled like a child and resigned for police not to arrest Melia.”
Garibashvili continued that while serving as the Minister of Interior Gakharia carried out “an incomprehensible special operation in nightclubs, ravaged people, and afterwards — as you have seen people in clubs insulted policemen multiple times — he got out to apologize to the [clubgoer] people, including those that he called drug addicts.” “This represented diminishing the institution.”
The Prime Minister also slammed his predecessor over “recklessly planned operation” on “the Gavrilov’s night” on June 20, 2019, accusing Gakharia of wrongfully deploying riot police outside the Parliament, not inside, which let to police being beaten up by protestors “for three hours.” Gakharia “let the whole country… see how aggressive UNM members were beating up our praisworthy police,” PM asserted.
Responding to Gakharia’s remarks that Garibashvili was a better fit for the Minister of Defense rather that Interior, the Prime Minister said “nobody had asked him where I would be appointed… Mister Bidzina Ivanishvili was the party chair that time and he decided my appointment.”
Noteworthy that according to the articles 55 and 56 of the Georgian Constitution, Prime Minister is entitled to nominate, appoint and dismiss the ministers.
In his remarks to reporters on the same day in western town of Tskaltubo, PM Garibashvili also said “this man [Gakharia] was nobody, arrived from Moscow, was appointed at various positions, was given this much trust, was taught, was clothed … and one day he comes out and criticizes the team he belonged to for eight years so [shamelessly].”