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Opposition says deputy culture minister was dismissed, not resigned

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 8
Member of the European Georgia opposition Gigi Ugulava says that Deputy Culture Minister Mikheil Giorgadze was dismissed on Friday as many representatives of the Georgian culture and art were rallying on central Tbilisi starting from June 20.

“Giorgadze was not worried by the rally dispersal on Rustaveli [on June 20], nor by the posts of Robert Sturua [famous Georgian director who disliked the rallies]. Dozens of the representatives of the culture field were standing at the rallies to protest Russian occupation. It was not resignation, but a dismissal,” Ugulava said.

Giorgadze responded that “it is political speculation,” saying that his resignation is not connected with any situations in the country for now.

Giorgadze wrote on his Facebook page on Friday that it was time to allow “a new person with new energy,” take the post, saying that he has done his utmost to serve the Georgian culture, education, and sport over the course of the past five years, in the posts of a minister and a deputy minister of culture, sports and education.

“We should respect Giorgadze’s decision,” Education Minister Mikheil Batiashvili said.

Member of the Georgian Dream ruling party Giorgi Volski says that the Georgian culture “creates the image of the country,” and “the new energy is needed.”

“The field requires more attention. Much has been done, various steps and events have been conducted. However, it is not enough,” Volski said.

Before taking the post of minister of culture in 2014, Giorgadze headed the Eastern Promotions Company, which promotes music in the Caucasus, making deals with famous musicians to arrive in Georgia and hold concerts.

He took the ministerial post until 2018 and then was replaced by Batiashvili. He was appointed as Batiashvili’s first deputy shortly.

Giorgadze sustained severe injuries in a car accident on 17 November 2018 in Kvareli, Kakheti region of eastern Georgia and had to undergo treatment in Turkey.

He suffered from brain contusion, non-penetrating chest trauma, multiple rib fractures, and a haunch bone fracture.

Rallies on Rustaveli Avenue were sparked after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker on June 20 to address a religious assembly.

People took to the streets to protest the behavior, saying that the government must not have allowed Gavrilov to take the high tribune in the Georgian legislative body when Russia occupies 20 percent of the Georgian territory.

The rally organizers held a concert in front of the parliamentary building on July 4, with famous singers participating in it, after the resignation of Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze and the promise from the ruling party to conduct the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2020 with the proportional representation system.