TBILISI, DFWatch – Police in Georgia say they have arrested five suspects after violent clashes between government supporters and opposition activists Thursday led to thirteen people being hospitalized.
Among them is the bodyguard of former AC Milan player Kakhi Kaladze. The guard was shown on pro-government media with a drawn pistol while Kaladze was being pelted with stones during a campaign stop for the opposition in the village Karaleti, near Gori.
Kaladze, who quit his football career in 2011 to support the new Georgian Dream movement of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, had come to Karaleti to talk to locals. But the event turned into a violent clash after someone started throwing stones. Journalists were also beaten.
The Interior Ministry Saturday released a statement saying that the police has studied all video footage from the incident and identified five suspects: Tsotne Shengelia, Kakha Gogiashvili, Vladmier Janezashili, Giorgi Gochashvili, and Levan Maisuradze; the latter is suspected of having beaten journalist Saba Tistiskashvili.
All five were sentenced to 15 days administrative detention by Gori regional court.
Two of the detainees are members of Georgian Dream, while two are refugees, including Levan Maisuradze, according to Georgian Dream, quoted by a correspondent for Interpressnews.
Representatives of the opposition movement also say that Tsotne Shengelia and two other activists were illegally arrested. Kakhaber Gogiashvili, who is a Georgian Dream activist, was severely beaten and taken to jail, according to them.
Tsotne Shengelia, one of Kakhi Kaladze’s security guards, was arrested in Samtredia, the former football player’s hometown.
Pro-government online television ITV uploaded footage which shows how one of Kaladze’s guards has drawn his gun, holding it with both hands and pointing it towards the ground, while the guards surrounding Kaladze are trying to get him away from the people throwing stones.
The government portrayed Kakhi Kaladze as having provoked the incident, but footage from online television info9 shows that a person named Gogita Gochishvili provoked Kaladze by mentioning his brother, who was officially announced dead in 2006, after being kidnapped in 2001. Gochshvili told Kaladze that his brother died because his family didn’t pay the ransom. This caused an uproar among the crowd, which was followed by stone throwing.
The football player himself, who won the Champions League twice, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup while playing for Milan, said on the Maestro TV talk show Politmetri that this is not the first time such a thing has happened.
He said that when Georgian Dream’s campaigners arrive at the entrance to a village, there usually is a group of drunken youth waiting together with activists from the ruling National Movement party demanding that they do not enter the village and meet the population.