Georgian PM, Parliament Speaker pay tribute to late first President on 84th birthday

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvil paid tribute to the memory of first President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Photo: Government press office, 31 Mar 2023 - 11:51, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Friday paid tribute to the memory of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the late first President of the country, on his 84th birthday. 

The officials visited the Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures in Tbilisi, where they laid flowers at the grave of the historical figure who led the country in its restoration of independence from the Soviet Union between 1991-1992, the Government Administration said. 

The Soviet-era dissident, writer and politician was elected in 1991 with 87 percent of the vote and served in the office through the political and social turmoil in the country following the dissolution of the USSR and declaration of independence by Georgia.

He was forced from power, and eventually from the country, in a 1991 coup, before returning from exile in September 1993. Gamsakhurdia died in unclear circumstances in the village of Khibula in western Samegrelo region of Georgia on December 31, 1994 and later was re-buried in the village of Jikhashkari of the same region.

Based on reports, his body was found with a single bullet wound to the head, with several of Gamsakhurdia’s guards claiming he had committed suicide. However, the first President’s family strongly opposes this account of events and claims he was killed. 

The current Georgian Dream authorities reopened investigation into Gamsakhurdia’s death in 2015, three years after taking office.