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Police arrest 13 at opposition’s rally

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, February 14
A total of 13 people were detained on Monday after clashes at a rally of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, whose members and supporters gathered at the Mayor’s Office to protest an alleged corrupt deal between Appeals Court judge Nata Nazgaidze and the government.

The UNM claims that the Mayor’s Office illegally paid 1 million GEL to the judge’s family, which, as they say, was a “reward” for Nazgaidze’s ruling against the current owners of Rustavi 2 in the ongoing ownership dispute.

The protesters say the government is trying to influence the court and demand to meet Mayor Davit Narmania.

Clashes took place between the protesters and the guards of Tbilisi City Hall as the UNM leader Nika Melia and his supporters tried to break into the building, though the City Hall Security Service did not allow them to do it.

“These policemen are fulfilling an illegal order. If the Mayor ordered to close the central hall door, the people wanted to open it. We are giving the mayor a few hours to come and meet us. We are not going home until he comes here,” Melia said.

After the police arrested 13 people on charges of hooliganism and resistance to police officers, the protesters moved to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and to different police departments, demanding the release of the detained.

The Mayor’s Office released a statement over the UNM rally, saying that City hall acted within the frames law.

“UNM members and their satellite non-governmental organizations were deliberately escalating the situation and trying to break into the building. They are trying to create chaos and mislead society,” the statement reads.

Rustavi 2 is one of the most popular channels in Georgia, and played an important role during the Rose Revolution in 2003, which ended Eduard Shevardnadze’s leadership.

Kibar Khalvashi, who was a co-owner of Rustavi 2 from 2004 to 2006, filed a lawsuit in August 2015 to reclaim his shares in Rustavi 2, saying he was illegally deprived of his company shares under the previous United National Movement (UNM) government, which ran Georgia in 2003-2012.

Since then, all court verdicts said the channel’s shares had to be given back to Khalvashi, until November 21, when three judges of the Supreme Court made a decision to hand the notorious case to the Grand Chamber, tasked to discuss most complex cases.

Rustavi 2 reported on February 6 that the brother of Appeals Court judge Nata Nazgaidze, who was discussing the Rustavi 2 dispute and assigned the broadcaster to Khalvashi, received 1 million GEL from the state budget.

The report says that according to the City Council's December 23 2016 decree, the family of Nazgaidze, in particular her brother, was given 1 million GEL in total for the land that was devastated in the June 13 2015 flood in Tbilisi.

However, the opposition says that at time, the property was in the Bank of Georgia’s ownership, and also no other but only the Nazgaidze family were given such compensation for land without any real estate on it.

Rustavi 2 Director General Nika Gvaramia says this proves that the government made a “corrupt deal” with the judge to deliver a verdict favorable for them.

The judge rejected the allegations, and said that she had nothing to do with her brother’s property.

Nazgaidze explained that her brother received the land and the money as compensation after the June 13 disaster, which flooded Tbilisi and destroyed the land owned by Zviad Nazgaidze.

“This statement is a false accusation and nothing but slander, which is clearly intended to mislead the public and to discredit a judge who is discussing the Rustavi 2 case,” the judge stated.