Ruling party MP claims opposition planning “dangerous provocations” using controversy over US-sanctioned ex-official

  • Mdinaradze claimed the United National Movement and “affiliated radical groups” had plans to use Partskhaladze’s topic for sparking unrest. Photo: Georgian Dream press office, 20 Sep 2023 - 16:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the head of the ruling Georgian Dream party in the Parliament, on Wednesday claimed the “radical wing” of the domestic opposition was planning “dangerous provocations” following the controversy related to the United States-sanctioned former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze.

The comment came in the aftermath of the Georgian National Bank’s decree on Tuesday that exempted Georgian citizens from being sanctioned without domestic court judgment, shortly after Partskhaladze, who was in office in 2013, was sanctioned by the US Department of State last week for alleged ties with Russia.

Mdinaradze claimed the United National Movement and “affiliated radical groups” had plans to use the topic for sparking unrest and “bloody confrontations” in the country.

Some opposition parties on Wednesday announced an anti-Government rally outside the Parliament in central Tbilisi later during the day.  

Giorgi Vashadze [the leader of the Strategy Agmashenebeli opposition party] did not accidentally mention arms in his address [for the announcement of the rally]”, Mdinaradze said, and added the opposition was “capable of doing everything for its narrow political interests”.

In his messages on Wednesday, Vashadze, who said his party would join the UNM rally later on Wednesday, accused the current Government of being “pro-Russian” and said the opposition would agree on an “action plan” during the demonstration. 

Not only the fight, none of our compatriots have ever stepped back from using arms. We are able to take all steps [to achieve the goal]”, Vashadze said.

The comments follow a physical confrontation between MPs of the Georgian Dream party and the Parliamentary opposition earlier today at the legislative venue. 

The incident reportedly started after a group of opposition MPs approached Irakli Kobakhidze, the head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, while he was giving comments and accused him of being a “Russian spy”.

In his comments on the new exemptions from sanctions for Georgian citizens, Kobakhidze on Wednesday said "punishing citizens without a court verdict" had become a "thing of the past”, and noted the Government was “required to protect any citizen of Georgia”.

Partskhaladze was sanctioned by the State Department, which said Aleksandr Onishchenko, an officer of Russia’s security agency FSB who has also been sanctioned along with the Georgian former official, had “likely assisted his associate Partskhaladze in obtaining a Russian passport and possibly Russian citizenship”, and added the former Georgian Prosecutor General had “fully taken on a Russian identity and routinely travels to Russia”.

Partskhaladze appeared on the latest list of sanctions along with more than 150 other individuals, on the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which means all his assets and interests registered in the US will be blocked.