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Day of Remembrance Turns Ugly in Parliament

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, September 28
On the tragic anniversary of the fall of Sokhumi on September 27, the Parliamentary Session developed into a verbal and physical confrontation among MPs. After paying tribute to the fallen soldiers with a minute of silence Petre Mamradze MP from the newly established faction Unity for Justice accused the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of a “military-political adventure” that gave Russia an opportunity to announce the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “The prospect of uniting Georgia is lost under the current Georgian regime,” Mamradze said calling the August war a “Georgian provocation”. Mamradze’s speech had outraged ruling United National Movement (UNM) MP Akaki Bobokhidze so much that he swore at his opponent and slapped him in the face.

Bobokhidze said he would immediately demand his resignation if any MP would continue accusing the Georgian government of inspiring any war. After apologizing to his colleagues Bobokhidze warned Mamradze never to repeat such words again. “It was Petre Mamradze who supported the September 27 agreement in 1993 on leaving Georgian military equipment in Sokhumi under the former President Eduard Shevardnadze’s governance,” Bobokhidze stated.

Petre Mamradze is a member of former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli’s party – accused of a pro-Russian orientation. “The pro-Russian forces are so bankrupt, that the only thing they can do is to stage this kind of 20-second shows,” ruling party MP Goka Gabashvili said referring to Mamradze. Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze asked the opposition to restrain from using the parliament setting to damage the state. “I would like to ask you for discretion because there is a limit to everything which no one should cross. Criticize the government, but don’t damage the country,” Bakradze said discouraging the MPs from accusing Georgia of starting the war and getting rid of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Chairman of the Georgian Troupe, Jondi Bagaturia, who is also a member of the parliamentary faction Unity for Justice asked the majority MPs to dismiss the government. Bagaturia worried that Georgia hasn’t managed to improve the domestic situation for 20 years since the fall of Abkhazia. “It’s obvious that Russia is a strong country and Georgia wouldn’t have won any war against them. The Georgian government has only beaten its own people – it has done nothing to assist the families of the fallen soldiers,” Bagaturia said referring to the GEL 55 assistance for the families of the fallen heroes while the ruling party members spend money on entertainment.

Levan Vepkhvadze, MP from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), reminded his colleagues that Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Nogaideli, the political figures who have the most frequent contacts with the Russian government, had both been former leaders of the UNM. Vepkhvadze also encouraged everyone to unite around the war-related issue but the ruling party MP Nugzar Tsiklauri refused to cooperate with the people who, according to him, are putting their personal needs above the state's. “I would rather die than sing with the betrayers,” Tsiklauri said confident that no one would manage to introduce the Russian political “mission” in Georgia which he believes is actively trying to make Georgia out to be “an aggressor” country.

Another controversial issue somehow connected to Mamradze, referred to the dismissal of his co-factionist Dimitri Lortkipanidze from the parliamentary delegations. Lortkipanidze demanded his insertion onto international trips as part of democratization process. As the ruling party members explained Lortkipanidze had lost such an opportunity after leaving Strong Georgia, a faction chaired by Gia Tortladze while there are no new vacancies on the delegation yet. “But you already have your representatives at international organizations under the United Russia’s membership. We are fighting against them and hope to see a final victory,” Machavariani said accusing the opposition of cooperating with the Russian ruling party.

When the Parliamentary Chairmen delivered a speech regarding “the tragic date in the modern history of Georgia” he emphasized how dangerous the foreign country’s interference can be for another country - referring to the fall of Abkhazia causing common pain for Georgians and Abkhaz people.