Police investigate shooting at campaign meeting in Gori, Georgia

Central Georgian town of Gori. Photo by Eurasia Travel.
Agenda.ge, 03 Oct 2016 - 13:22, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is investigating an incident where two people were shot and wounded at an election campaign meeting in the central Georgian town of Gori.

Two people have undergone surgery after they were shot yesterday when majoritarian candidate for Gori town Irakli Okruashvili hosted a public meeting.

Okruashvili, Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister (2004-2006), last night said he was meeting residents of one of the districts in Gori when someone opened fire in his direction. Okruashvili himself was not injured but two others – his security guard and a member of the public – were taken to hospital after they suffered gunshot wounds in the legs.

Doctor at Gori’s Military Hospital said both people had surgery and were now in a stable condition.

Police have identified two people allegedly responsible for the shooting. An investigation has been launched regarding serious intentional damage to a person’s health and illegal possession of a firearm.

Late last night Okruashvili named two people who he believed were responsible for the incident. He believed the pair were supported by the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party.

Georgian Dream reacts

GDDG Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze denied the party was involved in any way and said Okruashvili was trying to politicise the incident. Kobakhidze said the shooting took place after a personal confrontation between Okruashvili and a local from Gori.

"This is a cheap effort to give a political context to the incident which started with a simple argument between Okruashvili and his supporters and a resident of Gori,” said Kobakhidze.

He stressed no GD leaders or supporters had any connection to the incident.

Kobakhidze condemned the incident and said such violent confrontations hampered the election environment, when the ruling party’s goal was to prevent such incidents from happening.

International observers were assisting the ruling party to ensure Georgia’s election environment was free, fair and safe for all involved.

Who is Okruashvili?

Irakli Okruashvili, Georgia's Defence Minister in 2004-2006. Photo by NATO press office.

Okruashvili was one of the closes allies of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and was the country’s Defence Minister for two years, from 2004 to 2006, before he was dismissed.

In 2007 Okruashvili made a scandalous comeback to politics and openly confronted Saakashvili and his government.

That same year Okruashvili was briefly arrested at his party headquarters on charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office.

Later in 2007 he fled Georgia and was granted political asylum in France. He returned to Georgia in 2012, after five years abroad. After his return some of the charges against him were dropped and he was cleared of other charges by the Georgian court in January 2013.