Parliament discussed 2014 draft budget in absence of opposition MPs as UNM lawmakers walked out of chamber in response to a scuffle that erupted during a session on December 11 after a GD lawmaker verbally insulted UNM MP Giorgi Baramidze.
Session was opened by routine statements, usually made by MPs on various topics during parliamentary sessions on Wednesdays. In his statement UNM MP Giorgi Baramidze spoke about developments in Ukraine, stressing on the need of expressing solidarity towards the Ukrainian people, criticizing use of force against peaceful demonstrators and condemning Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine. After his speech several other lawmakers also made their statements – some were on Ukraine, others on some other issues.
Then GD MP Soso Jachvliani, an actor and film director who was elected from Tbilisi’s Gldani constituency, took the floor and said that what is happening in Ukraine is “very bad” and added addressing to MP Baramidze that while speaking about Ukraine he and UNM would better at first condemn use of force by Georgia’s previous authorities against protesters in Tbilisi on November 7, 2007 and May 26, 2011. He then recalled 2004 police operation in the mountainous region of Svaneti against suspected criminal group in which Evgeni Aprasidze and his son, Omekhi, were killed; Baramidze, who at the time was interior minister, was personally involved in that operation. Jachvliani, himself from the Svaneti region, told Baramidze that he was responsible for “killing in front of children of their uncle and grandfather”, “desecrating graves” and “flaying people”; he also said the previous authorities wanted “Svaneti to be hated” by rest of Georgia.
At one point MP Baramidze reacted to MP Jachvliani’s tirade by a hand gesture suggesting that he was listening to a crazy talk and when Jachvliani used in his address an offensive slang for a person not deserving a respect and swore at Baramidze, the latter responded by calling Jachvliani “bustard”; after that MP Jachvliani and another GD MP Victor Japaridze, a majoritarian lawmaker elected from Mestia constituency of Svaneti region, rushed from their seats towards Baramidze with Jachvliani attacking him with a kick. Other lawmakers from both GD and UNM groups got involved with a purpose to distance quarrelling colleagues from each other; Parliament marshals, overseeing rule and order in the chamber, were also involved in the efforts to disengage lawmakers. Parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said later on the same day that several marshals were “harmed” in the incident.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who was presiding over the sitting, had to stop the session by announcing a break.
After the session resumed about fifteen minutes later, lawmakers continued routine discussion of items on the agenda in which UNM MPs were also participating.
But before moving to discussing of the draft of 2014 budget, a senior UNM lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, announced that although there were important items on the agenda, including the draft budget, the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority opted to create conditions in the chamber not conducive to constructive debate and work – he was referring to the scuffle that broke out about an hour earlier.
“Therefore we are now walking out and we appeal to the parliament speaker to give his assessment to this incident, to this provocation that took place in this chamber,” MP Gabashvili said; as he was speaking, MP Jachvliani was shouting at UNM MP something that was inaudible. “The parliamentary minority group will not be taking part in sessions unless we hear an assessment of this provocation from the parliamentary majority group,” MP Gabashvili added.
Addressing to his fellow lawmakers from the GD parliamentary majority group, parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said: “It is not our task to tackle the United National Movement… Our job is to govern the country and to achieve the progress and in order to do that we have to work on the issues that has to be done in the parliament – adopting bills and budget and taking various decisions after debating.”
“It’s not politically wise when the parliamentary majority gives a pretext to the minority group to walk out from chamber at the time when the Parliament is about to start discussion of the budget,” Usupashvili said.
He said that he will hold consultations with the UNM in order to get back to “normal working mode.”
Like now, last year too UNM lawmakers were absent when the Parliament was discussing the draft budget; at the time UNM MPs walked out of chamber in protest against arrest of some former officials.