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MP Links Attack on him to Presidential Residence Row
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 Jul.'05 / 22:26

Wealthy businessman and parliamentarian
Valery Gelashvili joined the opposition
Republican Party last month.

In a brief interview with Rustavi 2 television, opposition MP Valery Gelashvili, who was attacked and severely beaten by armed men on July 14, blamed the authorities for this attack and linked the incident with a row involving the Presidential Residence, which is currently under construction. This facility is being built by MP Gelashvili’s construction firm, Evra.

 

MP Gelashvili, who suffered multiple injuries to the head during the attack, was interviewed in a hospital room shortly after the incident occurred. In response to a journalist’s question of whether or not he thinks that the row over the Presidential Residence was the reason behind this attack, MP Gelashvili replied: “Yes. What other reason can there be?”

In 2002, Valeri Gelashvili, who runs the construction firm Evra, purchased land comprising 2,300 square meters located in the Avlabari district of Tbilisi and started constructing a private apartment. This area is adjacent to the building which was previously the office of the Road Traffic Police.

According to Evra's web-site, in 2004 Gelashvili was requested by the authorities to hand over this apartment building to the state after the government decided to transform the nearby Road Traffic Police building into the new Presidential Residence. Gelashvili agreed, but requested the right to carry out construction works of the Presidential Residence. The authorities agreed and as a result the Evra company started building.

Last month MP Gelashvili announced that the government has refused to pay money owed for the construction works. There were speculations that because of this row, Gelashvili, who was a non-partisan parliamentarian from the Khashuri single-mandate constituency, decided to join the opposition Republican Party.

As a result, an announcement from the Evra company has appeared recently on the web-site www.broker.ge which reads that the company is selling the apartment adjacent to the current construction site. “The apartment has bulletproof windows. Initial price – USD 5,000,000,” the announcement reads.

In a separate statement, which is posted on Evra's web-site, the company says that it is ready to hand over the construction rights to any investor in the event that investor pays reimbursment costs which have already been spent by the company for the current construction works.

The attack on Gelashvili occurred at approximately 2 pm, when the MPs Mercedes M was blocked by two cars in the central part of Tbilisi. Several masked men, armed with automatic weapons forced Gelashvili and his two companions – a bodyguard and an employee of the Evra company – out of the car and started to beat the parliamentarian.

The ruling National Movement party leaders convened a news conference shortly after this incident to dismiss the opposition parties’ accusations over the authorities’ alleged involvement in this attack.

“It is of principled importance for us to investigate the incident and punish the guilty,” Giga Bokeria, an influential parliamentarian from the National Movement party, said.

The law enforcement officials have not yet commented on this incident.

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