Interior Minister, Alexander Tchikaidze, said that the UNM opposition party may try to “destabilize” the country with the goal “to overthrow state institutions.”
Tchikaidze, 28, said in an interview with the Georgian weekly newspaper, Prime Time, that UNM “started purchasing tires”, suggesting that the opposition is preparing for street protests with burning barricades of car tires.
UNM lawmaker Giorgi Baramidze said the allegation was “very unserious” and another UNM lawmaker, Irma Nadirashvili, dismissed it as “delirium”.
Asked if he thinks the Ukrainian scenario is possible in Georgia with UNM opposition party launching Euromaidan-type of protests, the Interior Minister responded that developments in Ukraine were triggered by government’s U-turn on EU integration, which is not the case in Georgia. “On the contrary, we are signing the Association Agreement [with the EU] in June,” he said in the newspaper interview published on April 7.
He, however, said that “certain information” is available according to which UNM may try to “mobilize” persons with past links to criminal groups.
“There are groups, which will try to stir turmoil in the country for the purpose of strengthening their political position. I think that the public will not allow it because the country is on the right track,” said Tchikaidze.
“Opponents of course will have attempts [to stir] unrests, but it is only their desire and such ideas are doomed to fail. Moreover, they brought in from Ukraine Euromaidan activists and are holding trainings and preparatory works. There were media reports about it as well,” he said and added that UNM operates several non-governmental organizations, which “are working actively on bringing people into the streets to cause unrests and to then shoot someone and to put blame on government.”
“Erecting tents is planned where 300-400 men will be mobilized. I believe that our opponent will realize that it is not the path which will bring anything good to any of us or to the country,” he said and added that everyone has the right to express opinion freely, but “groups, which will try to destabilize the country… will be strictly punished.”
UNM parliamentary minority group said it will summon the Interior Minister at a parliamentary hearing to deliver concrete facts, if he has any, about his allegations.
Responding to Tchikaidze’s allegations, UNM MP Zurab Japaridze said jokingly that after such statement the Interior Minister should be tested on light drugs.
“This is a cheap attempt by the authorities to overshadow numerous problems, which have been accumulated recently. As it seems ‘hakim pasha’ instructed Tchikaidze to make such a statement,” MP Japaridze said using a nickname, which UNM politicians frequently use in reference to PM Garibashvili; “hakim pasha” is name of an anonymous YouTube account where leaked autopsy photos of late PM Zurab Zhvania were published; UNM says photos were leaked by the authorities.
“This is absurd, nonsense; the United National Movement does not need to prepare for Maidan. We are sure that there will be no need for Maidan or this kind of things to change this government; they [the authorities] are anyway moving fast on downward course,” MP Japaridze said.