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UNM Boycotts Parliament Sittings in Protest Over Kortskheli Violence
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 May.'16 / 16:09

Lawmakers from UNM, the largest opposition group in the legislative body, walked out of the Parliament chamber on May 25, saying they will not be attending sessions unless all the perpetrators and masterminds of the violence in the village of Kortskheli are held accountable.

Several leaders of the opposition UNM party and its activists were beaten up by a group of GDDG ruling party supporters and members on May 22 in Zugdidi municipality’s village of Kortskheli during local by-election.

No one has either been arrested or charged three days after the violence, filmed by several TV crews, and in which many of the perpetrators have been identified. Six of them were questioned by the police on May 24 without being charged.

The issue dominated lawmakers’ speeches during general debate on Wednesday at the parliamentary session with lawmaker from the ruling GDDG party putting blame on UNM members, claiming that they “provoked” the incident. One ruling party lawmaker called UNM “master of provocations.” Many of them used their speeches to recall the violent breakup of anti-government protest overnight on May 26, 2011, when UNM was in power.

Some ruling party MPs even justified the violence against UNM.

“Their [UNM leaders’] beating came too late; they should have been beaten up much earlier… The entire nation is blessing those hands, which beaten up [one of UNM leaders Giga] Bokeria and others,” GDDG MP Omar Nishnianidze told journalists in the Parliament.

UNM lawmakers have been calling for holding accountable not only those directly involved in the violence on May 22, but those who mobilized and brought the group of assailants in the village at the time when UNM leaders were there during the local by-election. Specifically, UNM accuses Energy Minister and Deputy PM, Kakha Kaladze, who is general secretary of the ruling party, of being behind the group, which attacked UNM leaders.

“Not a single of you has condemned this violence [in Kortskheli],” UNM MP Sergo Ratiani told ruling party lawmakers. You all are responsible for this violence and it was not an isolated case because from the very first day of coming to power you have been ruling through violent thugs – for instance the case of February 8 [2013] and many other cases that followed.”

He also told ruling party MPs that UNM lawmakers “will not seat next to you in the Parliament” unless those involved in the attack are punished and Kaladze’s questioned; he also said that Kaladze’s political responsibly should also be raised.

“We have seen feeble Prime Minister, who failed to react, and who cannot do absolutely anything to prevent such crime. We have also seen feeble police, which have failed to react… Leader of these thugs, vice PM Kakha Kaladze, should be immediately questioned,” UNM MP Nugzar Tsiklauri said.

“You try to portray victims of this attack as instigators of the violence,” UNM MP Giorgi Gabashvili told the ruling party lawmakers.

“When [almost] four days after this crime the state has not yet reacted properly, means that this is not a normal state and this state is not be normal when not only perpetrators of this crime are not arrested, but they even hold protest rally outside the Interior Ministry,” UNM MP Gabashvili said, referring to a rally of supporters and relatives of those six men who were involved in the Kortskheli violence and who were questioned by the police late on May 24. The rally was calling on the Interior Ministry not to arrest the six men.

“We are not going to create an illusion of a normal democracy with democratic institutions by [attending the parliamentary sessions] unless the perpetrators and masterminds of that crime are held accountable. Therefore we are launching a boycott,” he added.

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