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Ruling Faction Withdraws Its Member from Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 8
The Georgian Dream ruling party faction made a decision last week to withdraw Gedevan Popkhadze from the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee in the wake of the latter’s election as the deputy head of the committee.

The ruling party top figures claim that Popkhadze, who is now deprived of any right to take a post in the committee, was withdrawn because of procedural violations and no consultations in the team regarding his election to the post.

However, Popkhadze, who said that he disliked the withdrawal, says that the decision is very likely to be related to the controversial list of judges for the Supreme Court, which must be discussed in the Legal Affairs Committee and then voted by lawmakers.

Popkhadze said that Eka Beselia, who quit the post of the head of Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee on December 27, opposed the list, “while Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze was trying to persuade the head of the party’s political council Bidzina Ivanishvili that the list was acceptable.”

Beselia raised Popkhadze and two others for the deputy head of the committee. However, Kobakhidze stated that she did not have a right to nominate three candidates and said that it was a “rough procedural violation.”

Beselia, who says that her resignation was related to the “unacceptable list of judges” who may be appointed for life in the Supreme Court, was not in Georgia when the ruling party faction gathered on January 3 and withdrew Popkhadze from the committee.

“I do not want to think that they did it deliberately [held the faction meeting during her absence in Georgia] as Kobakhidze was aware of it. I think ethical issues are related to me and should be discussed with me. As for Gedevan’s withdrawal from the committee, I do not know the arguments. I will arrive, learn and speak about it. I do not want to think that prohibited practices will be used," Beselia said.

Kobakhidze claims that Beselia made the decision regarding the resignation long before the presentation of the list of judges and stated that linking Beselia’s quitting with the judges is “either not knowing the issue or deliberate speculation.”

A member of the European Georgia opposition Otar Kakhidze says that it is less likely that Beselia’s resignation is related to the judges.

“There is a confrontation between different clans of the ruling party. As for the list of judges, the list was approved by Ivanishvili, who makes decisions in the country,” Kobakhidze says.

The High Council of Justice, an independent body which is responsible for the appointment of judges, presented a list of 11 judges two weeks ago for the Supreme Court.

The list was grilled by the civil sector and even several members of the ruling team because of the presence of the judges on the list “who were connected with politically motivated cases and biased judiciary.”