UNM opposition party and its supporters rallied on December 28 in Tbilisi, saying that some of the recent developments show “the democracy is in danger” in the country.
UNM supporters packed basketball arena in downtown Tbilisi on Saturday afternoon, listening to speeches by the party leaders, before marching down the capital city’s main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue, towards the state chancellery, housing PM’s office.
Suspending Tbilisi mayor, Gigi Ugulava, from the office by the court upon the prosecution’s motion; reported pressure on former PM Vano Merabishvili, held in pre-trial detention, allegedly exerted on him by chief prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze, as well as the latter’s past criminal conviction in Germany, were among the issues protested by UNM at the rally.
“When a directly elected mayor is being removed from the office through means other than election that amounts to shaking of fundamentals of the democracy,” said Giga Bokeria of UNM party, who was secretary of the National Security Council under the previous administration.
Recently emerged allegations about chief prosecutor having a criminal record prompted calls for Partskhaladze’s resignation. Many commentators and analysts, including those sympathetic towards the ruling coalition, have also voiced criticisms, calling on the chief prosecutor to step down in order to avoid further scandal, which may harm not only personally him but the ruling coalition and the government as a whole.
In an interview with Rustavi 2 TV, broadcast on December 27, PM Garibashvili although confirmed that the chief prosecutor was convicted in Germany for, as he put it, “incident” with police, defended Partskhaladze and actually ruled out his dismissal; he lambasted UNM and said that the opposition party’s leadership was trying to “discredit” and “demonize” the chief prosecutor with a purpose to undermine “efficient” work of the prosecutor’s office. Garibashvili said that Partskhaladze “is a problem” for UNM because in just one month in office, the chief prosecutor invigorated investigations into high-profile cases, including those against some former government officials.
“If some incident occurs to a person in the childhood, it should not become a reason for killing prospects for this person,” PM Garibashvili said of Partskhaladze, who was 24 at the time of his conviction in Germany in January, 2001.
Referring to these remarks of the PM, Gigi Ugulava said while addressing supporters at the UNM rally on December 28, that if a man in his mid-twenties is a child then 31-year-old PM turns out to be a juvenile.