Interior Minister, Alexander Tchikaidze, said in a written statement on January 23 that he has filed for resignation.
He cited allegations against him about “protecting” police officers involved in operation in which two young men were killed almost nine years ago as a reason behind his decision to step down.Investigation into alleged excessive use of force by the police in that operation in 2006 is still ongoing.
“Although these allegations are not true, I feel moral responsibility and quit,” Tchikaidze said in a statement posted on Interior Ministry’s website.
“If the murder of Yuri Vazagashvili had been solved immediately, I would not have made such decision. But as the investigation is still ongoing, I believe that I should distance myself from the process in order for the society not to have questions in address of the authorities,” Tchikaidze said, expressing hope that the investigation will soon be over.
In a newspaper interview, published on January 19, a day before his death, Yuri Vazagashvili criticized the authorities for lack of progress in the investigation into killing of his son in police operation in 2006. And at a press conference last week, he said that some of the law enforcement officers, who were part of the operation in which his son was killed, were still working for the Interior Ministry and blamed then minister Alexander Tchikaidze of “protecting” them.
Tchikaidze, 29, held the Interior Minister’s post since November, 2013.
Although heading powerful ministry, he was considered to be a nominal figure. As the interior minister, Tchikaidze will probably be more remembered for his gaffes; he has been avoiding making any public comments and appearing before journalists for months already; he has also snubbed UNM parliamentary opposition’s request to appear at a hearing.
Speaking with Georgian journalists in Davos, PM Garibashvili hailed Tchikaidze’s decision to step down.
“[Tchikaidze] has confirmed once again that he is a dignified person and he did what a dignified policeman and a devoted soldier of our country would have done,” Garibashvili said. “He confirmed once again that holding of office was not a priority for him; the main thing for him is to serve the people, to serve his country… and we will continue this way as long as we are in power.”
It is not yet clear who will replace Tchikaidze on the post of the interior minister.
Appointment of new interior minister by PM Irakli Garibashvili, who is currently in Davos for the World Economic Forum, will not require approval of the Parliament. Confidence vote from the Parliament is only needed when more than one-third of 20-member cabinet is changed.