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Zugdidi incident

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, January 17
Parliament of Georgia is going to discuss and approve amendments in the State Constitution of the country. However, before the necessary procedures are launched, the draft of amendments will be discussed publicly in Tbilisi, as well as in the regions. The discussions are being organized by the special commission the parliament has created.

The draft of the amendments has been prepared and aims to restrict some of the presidential powers and return the parliament building to Tbilisi.

The first public discussion was held in Zugdidi, where an incident between locals and the representatives of United National Movement (UNM) took place. Some Zugdidi residents were unsatisfied that minority members appeared at the meeting. UNM MP Akaki Boobkhidze was not allowed to finish his speech at the meeting; he was interrupted and verbally assaulted. As a result of the confrontation, minority members decided to leave the meeting. Bobokhidze’s car was attacked and eggs were thrown at it.

MP Akaki Minashvili, who was also attending the meeting in Zugdidi, commented with journalists later that he was very disappointed that police officers never reacted to the incident accordingly.

Lali Antia, a representative of the NGO sector whose members reportedly attacked the MP’s car with eggs and Robert Gamisonia were detained after the incident. They were presented before the court and faced administrative charges. Antia admitted that she committed the offence and added that Bobokhidze and Minashvili were first to verbally abuse citizens gathered outside the building where the meeting was taking place.

Akaki Bobokhidze said that “agitated” people had gathered in Zugdidi and could not be controlled even by the members of Georgian Dream Coalition, who were attending the discussions and there was an “attempt” to insult him.

However, members of the NGO Women for Peace and Defend Georgia, who gathered in front of Zugdidi court building, said that law enforcers should react and start an investigation against Bobokhidze and Minashvili.

Members of the Parliament minority believe that the Zugdidi incident was a staged provocation by the Georgian Dream. “The Georgian Dream is a government of violence and chaos. If they continue the same way, serious problems will be caused and the country will return to the 90s” Minashvili said.

Georgian Dream member Zakaria Kutsnashvili denied the allegations saying that the Georgian Dream would never provoke any incident. “Moreover, we were trying to protect the UNM members during the incident, Kutsnashvili said.

Chairman of Parliament, Davit Usufashvili, also commented on the incident and asked citizens to make sure their actions do not disturb the necessary procedures for constitutional amendments.

According to the draft, the president’s current right to dismiss the government and propose a new PM and cabinet for confirmation to the Parliament will go under the amendment. Currently he can appoint a new government even if the parliament refuses to approve the cabinet. The president can even dissolve the lawmaking body and appoint a new government, in the case the parliament refuses to approve the new cabinet three times. However, it is also mentioned in the Constitution that the president cannot dissolve the parliament within six months after the day of the elections.

The next public discussion on the constitutional amendment is scheduled on January 17th in Kutaisi.