Five ruling Georgian Dream Local Council (Sakrebulo) members quit the party and their posts on July 11 in a spate of resignations that criticized U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s assessment of ruling party MP Mikheil Kavelashvili’s recent letter to her to be “full of lies and conspiracy theories.” MP Kavelashvili had accused Amb. Degnan of encouraging civil society actors and opposition that, according to Kavelashvili and two of his colleagues, push Georgia toward war with Russia.
The first to resign was Giorgi Gambashidze, Deputy Chairman of Lagodekhi Local Council, followed by Nika Samkharadze, Omar Jikhvashvili, and Mikheil Goginashvili, Deputy Chairmen of GD factions in Chiatura Local Council, Terjola Local Council, and Gori Local Council, respectively, along with Saba Kbilashvili, Deputy Chairman of Akhaltsikhe Local Council.
Gambashidze cited a desire to “speak more freely” in the Facebook post announcing his resignation.
“It does not fit in my Georgian dream that a representative of the main friendly country in our nation does not even finish reading the letter addressed to her and insults [Mikheil] Kavelashvili, a member of the Georgian Parliament,” Gambashidze proclaimed. “For me personally, this is alarming news and a red line.”
Gambashidze compared the Ambassador’s comments to a time “where general secretaries or instructors of the [Central Committee of the Communist Party] were giving instructions from Russia.” “We cannot accept such an attitude from anyone else, even from a friend,” he stressed.
“What Mikheil Kavelashvili wrote, people are worried about these questions,” Gambashidze argued. “Therefore I also appeal to the Ambassador to name at least one lie mentioned in the letter of the member of parliament and to answer posed questions.”
Gambashidze slammed Amb. Degnan for her “attitude [which] really damages the friendship and relationship between Georgia and America built over so many years…”
He invited others to resign but said, “We should not do it in such a way that the Georgian Dream loses the majority in any district, this will only help us do the work of the enemies of the country – the [United National Movement].”
Samkharadze followed suit and repeated the narrative, “There are many things that can be said directly, which will ensure that real friends do not talk to us like representatives of the [Central Committee of the Communist Party].”
Samkharadze cited the recently departed GD trio of MPs Kavelashvili, Dimitri Khundadze, and Sozar Subari, who left the ruling party on a similar premise, as needing “our support on the very difficult, actually European, road to freedom and a higher quality of democracy.”
Jikhvashvili expressed disbelief in his resignation that “[Georgia’s] close friends and partners across the ocean would like the actions of their representative in Georgia when instead of answering questions and distancing herself from calls for war, she insults the majority elected member of parliament who dared to write her a letter.”
Kiblashvili declared his intention to join Gambashidze’s call for others to resign. “Someone must take it upon themselves to tell the simple but hard to say truth,” he said.
Goginashvili, the last of the five to resign, proclaimed, “The Georgian people (especially those from Gori) know the price of war very well, towards which the radical forces want to push our country. Instead of the American ambassador disassociating herself from them and all such forces and attempts, unfortunately, we saw the opposite. That is why I join the call of my colleagues.”