Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili in Kizilajlo on October 19. Photo: facebook.com/miaofgeo/
Five persons were wounded after an unidentified person opened fire at the Georgian Dream’s campaign headquarters in village Kizilajlo of Marneuli Municipality on October 19, two days before the municipal elections.
According to media reports, Georgian Dream’s majoritarian candidate for Sakrebulo (local council) membership, Jeyhun Chovdarov, as well as an incumbent Sakrebulo member and three ruling party activists sustained injuries in the attack late night yesterday. Four persons still remain in hospital and one was discharged last evening.
Shortly after the incident, Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili traveled to Marneuli, where he announced that the Interior Ministry would launch intensive investigation over the attack.
Mgebrishvili also called on the public not to view the incident in the political context. “Let’s remove the political context from this issue. Nevertheless, we are working on all possible versions,” Mgebrishvili noted.
Georgian Health Minister Davit Sergeenko also arrived in Marneuli early on October 20 and visited the hospital, where the injured persons are undergoing medical treatment. There, the Minister said that two persons had sustained light injuries and the state of health of the remaining two was grave and moderately grave, respectively. According to the Minister, all of them had undergone relevant surgeries.
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, who chairs the Interagency Commission for Free and Fair Elections, also commented on the incident. “This issue cannot be politicized only because one of the wounded persons has a status of a candidate. We think that we should wait for the results of the investigation without linking this issue to elections and politics,” she said.
Local representatives of political parties also commented on the incident.
“This is the face of the Georgian Dream, that similar things are happening in Georgia today… Rumors are saying that it might be [related to] intra-party confrontation,” said Akmamed Imamquliyev of the European Georgia, who runs as Marneuli mayoral candidate.
“Political motives should be ruled out. It may be an intra-party confrontation. This is a very serious, horrible fact. We expect a [quick] answer from the Interior Ministry,” said MP Azer Suleimanov of the United National Movement.
Georgian Dream members rejected the claims on the intra-party confrontation and called on the public to wait for the results of the investigation.
Georgian civil society organizations also urged the government to investigate the incident in due time. “We have a lot of high-profile cases with and without electoral contexts, which had been under investigation for months and then closed without any results, or are still underway, though the public has no information about them. If the municipal elections continue this negative tradition, it will definitely not have positive effects on the electoral environment,” said Ana Natsvlishvili of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
“We condemn any violence. It is very important that this fact is investigated duly, because all these affect the pre-election environment,” noted Eka Gigauri of the Transparency International Georgia.
The Interior Ministry has launched investigation under article 117 of the criminal code of Georgia involving intentional infliction of grave injuries.