We, the signatory organizations, respond to the events that took place in Gurjaani in the recent days, denounce the instances of clear disrespect for the public that may also contain signs of a crime punishable by the Criminal Code, and call upon law enforcement bodies to respond appropriately. We also call on the Prime Minister of Georgia, as well as other high-ranking officials and public servants, to refrain from making statements that are equivalent to obvious encouragement of violence and cause an escalation of the conflict situation.
According to news reports, on April 20, 2015, employees of the Gamgebeli’s Office and Town Assembly of Gurjaani, together with Georgian Dream activists, invaded the office of Giorgi Gviniashvili, the Majoritarian MP of Gurjaani, and forced him and other members of the United National Movement to leave the building. The confrontation had started after G. Gviniashvili made a statement on the creation of a commission to study the corrupt activities of the Gamgebeli of Gurjaani. The assailants threw eggs during the confrontation. Despite the presence of dozens of police officers mobilized near the building of the Gamgebeli’s Office, they were not able to prevent the incident effectively.
It should be noted that the Head of the Kakheti Regional Main Division of the MIA, Giorgi Bubunauri, the Chief of the Gurjaani Police, Giorgi Kratsashvili, and others were observing the incident from several meters away. The confrontation was also observed by the Gamgebeli of Gurjaani, Givi Gergidze; his deputies, Elguja Giorgadze and Dimitri Kalatozishvili; the Head of the Town Assembly, Vano Beridzishvili; his deputy from the Republican Party, Zviad Kviralashvili; and others.
According to news reports, during the forcible invasion of the MP’s office, particularly active were the Head of the Division of Property Management of the Gamgebeli’s Office, Davit Nikolashvili; the Head of the Supervision Service, Durmishkhan Amisulashvili; the Chairman of the Commission on the Issues of Economy and Property Management of the Town Assembly, Levan Khaziuri; the Chairman of the Commission on Infrastructure and Natural Resources of the Town Assembly, Zakro Kachlishvili; the trustee of the village of Vejini, Kukuri Jamatashvili; the trustee of the town of Gurjaani, Dimitri Arevadze; and others.
Instances of confrontation also took place on April 21 when members of the United National Movement protested against the stoppage of projects in Gurjaani after the change of the government. The manager of the Alazani football club, Mikheil Purtseladze, came up to MPs Giorgi Gviniashvili and Levan Bezhashvili, and assaulted them verbally. There was also an attempt of physical assault.
It causes particular concern that the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, in his statement made on April 21 in connection with the events in Gurjaani, approved of the activists’ behavior and noted that "The population of Gurjaani has responded to the actions of the National Movement in a just and adequate way”, by which he actually contributed to the escalation of violence.
The assailants who had been encouraged by the inaction of the police and the aforementioned statement of the Prime Minister continued the attacks on the Majoritarian MP on April 22 when the activists of Georgian Dream who had gathered in the building threw eggs (of the incubation period) at the Majoritarian MP of Gurjaani, Giorgi Gviniashvili, and persons accompanying him. According to the Kakheti Information Center, "There were also several police officers in the building of the Gamgebeli’s Office, though they made no warning calls to the members of Georgian Dream”.
On the basis of all the aforementioned, we call on the relevant bodies to take appropriate measures to conduct a timely and unbiased investigation of the incidents, as well as to ensure that possible instances of nepotism and corrupt deals in the Gurjaani Municipality are studied and responded to appropriately.
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Georgian Young Lawyers Association
Media Development Foundation
Georgia’s Reforms Associates
Tolerance and Diversity Institute
Institute for Non-Violent Communication
Transparency International – Georgia
Article 42 of the Constitution