The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Wednesday, May 10
Two More Parties Demand Plebiscite over Constitution Amendments

Two non-parliamentary opposition parties – the Republican Party and the Free Democrats – joined the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia in demanding a plebiscite on abolishing the direct presidential election, as well as on the introduction of the new electoral system, according to which, the votes of the parties that fail to cross the threshold would go to the winner.

“The Georgian Dream (GD) party entirely ignored the positions of other political actors in the commission, of non-governmental organizations and the public defender on important issues of the country’s political arrangement … and drafted a proposal which serves GD’s narrow party interest for maintaining power, to the detriment of the country’s democratic development,” the Free Democrats leader Shalva Shavgulidze said at his press briefing on May 8.

Shavgulidze added that the Free Democrats party would join the campaign of the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia so that “no essential amendments are made to the constitution in line with narrow party interests and desires of the ruling political party” and so that “constitutional amendments represent the result of a broad public consensus and agreement.” “Only in this way would the constitution manage to ensure the harmonious regulation of the country’s public and political life, [as well as] the effective protection of the rights and freedoms of each and every citizen or resident of the country.”

The Republican Party released a statement on the matter on May 8 as well, saying that the change in the presidential election procedure “does not reflect the positions of Georgian citizens,” and that constitutional reform “of such scale,” should not happen “without considering the political context.”

“The Constitution of Georgia should adequately reflect the priorities of Georgia’s population. It should not be a document reflecting temporary, ad hoc decisions,” the statement said. “Therefore, we support the initiative proposed by the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia.”

“We urge the Georgian citizens to express their positions on the plebiscite, which will establish preconditions for the Prime Minister to set the plebiscite, thus enabling citizens to express their personal visions on whether the President of Georgia should be elected by the people, through direct voting (current rule), or by those parties that cleared the threshold (in proportion to the votes obtained),” the statement said.

The plebiscite “will give us a chance to end the established faulty practice of tailoring the constitutional amendments to the interests of the ruling party and enable us to establish constitutional grounds for democratic development.” (

Georgian priest must remain in detention until beginning of murder trial

A Georgian priest accused of planning to poison an adviser to the Patriarch is to remain in pre-trial detention. This was decided at a hearing in the Tbilisi City Court on Friday.

The judge rejected all the around a dozen pleas by arch priestGiorgi Mamaladze’s lawyers and stated that there were no legal ground to stop his prosecution.

The defendant maintained his innocence and defense lawyers demand that all criminal charges are dropped and that their client is released immediately.

The court earlier decided to hold the 11 hours long hearing behind closed doors.

Next hearing will be on May 19; in about two weeks’ time.

Mamaladze is suspected of premeditated homicide attempt motivated by greed, a crime which carries a sentence of 16 to 20 years in jail.

He was detained at Tbilisi airport with sodium cyanide in his luggage as he was about to leave for Berlin to visit Patriarch Ilia II, who was undergoing laparoscopy. The amount of poison was enough to kill several persons, according to a statement by the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The alleged target of the plot was Shorena Tetruashvili, Patriarch Ilia II’s personal secretary, who has a strong informal influence among the clergy.

The prosecution’s theory is that after Mamaladze was dismissed as head of the Church’s property department in January, 2016 and appointed director of St Ioakime and St Ana Medical Center, he believed that Tetruashvili was behind his dismissal and considered his transfer a demotion. (DF watch)

Patriarch’s former chief guard left Georgia

“I did not want to stay in Georgia any longer,” the Patriarch’s former chief guard Soso Okhanashvili told InterpresNews.

According to him, he went to Germany to find a job, but he noted that he was offered a job in Georgia too.

"Generally, the reason for leaving Georgia was, of course, the shameless show that triggered the Georgian society. I did not want to stay in Georgia any more", - said Okhanashvili.

As for the question of whether he expected detention in relation to the cyanide case, Okhanashvili said he did not have such a fear and his departure is not related to that.

"No, so I did not come. I do not really have the fear. I have four children and need to save the family, "said the former head of the patriarch.

Soso Okhanashvili left Georgia for Germany several weeks ago. (IPN)