TBILISI, DFWatch – As his last best option for entering Georgian politics was blocked, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s allies are experiencing unprecedented trouble as two officials aligned with him in the Tbilisi city council are fired from their positions.
As if it was not enough that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s citizenship was taken away, it is creating a firestorm of controversy here in Tbilisi that two representatives in the capital’s city council aligned with the president’s main challenger were fired — for not “fulfilling their responsibility”. The opposition perceive this as part of a political power game.
The drama erupted on Friday, after two members of Irakli Alasania’s block, he being a promising Georgian politician and by many people’s account the most viable contender, had two of their deputies in the city’s council barred from further service.
It has created an outrage that Zurab Abashidze and Viktor Dolidze from Alasania’s party the Free Democrats were summarily fired. Zurab Abashidze has been Deputy Chairman of Parliament, while Viktor Dolidze has been chairman of the Health and Social Affairs Commission.
“Saakashvili takes country back to the Bolshevik era,” Abashidze’s former deputy commented after the development became known to Georgians.
The decision was met with unusual tumultous agitation in the usually noisy Tbilisi city council, and after a while, both Zurab Abasgidze and Viktor Dolidze left the session.
Later all opposition members marched out of the session while claiming that it is a well calculated political game unacceptable to them.
While always a scene of tough rhetoric, it took even the local Tbilisi deputies by surprise that Soso Egutia from the ruling party threw insults at Mr Abashidze and Mr Dolidze before the council’s session, an incident which led the opposition to demand a personal apology from Egutia.
Niko Khachirashvili from the ruling majority stated that Zurab Abashidze and Viktor Dolidze had not fulfilled their official duties, but instead they had been making ‘unclear political statements.’
According to the Georgian legislation, Tbilisi City Council is an elected body and none of its member are prohibited from making political statements. Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party agrees with the opposition and said: “In this case it is absolutely clear that we are dealing with a calculated political game.’
Also other opposition party members share her opinion.
Zurab Abashidze and Viktor Dolidze are both members of the party of Irakli Alasania, who has formed an alliance with Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili and had intense consultations after Ivanishvil declared his wish to enter politics and remove Mikheil Saakashvili from power.
The government has tried to block Ivanishvili’s progress towards power in a number of ways. First, they revoked his citizenship, which made it illegal for him to take part in political activities and finance political parties. Later, they sequestered three million dollars from Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank, and deprived him of land plots in Tbilisi where Ivanishvili had already started implementing some projects.
A number of foreign diplomats have expressed concern about what is happening, and the Georgian opposition are not alone in suspecting that the decision made in Tbilisi Council was made as part of a political power play.
Opposition groups which are not in negotiations with Ivanishvili are of the same opinion.