TBILISI, DFWatch–The National Movement’s fourth primary on Saturday took place against the backdrop of violent clashes with an angry hoe-wielding crowd who threw stones and bottles.
For the fourth time, the UNM’s primary was won by former Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze. It was held in the theater in Zugdidi, a town near the breakaway region Abkhazia.
Protesters against the former ruling party carried hoes and spades and threw stones and bottles at the UNM members, shouting that the party which has occupied the whole Samegrelo region should get out.
Power in Samegrelo was during UNM’s reign concentrated around the former chief prosecutor of the region, Roland Akhalaia, a much-feared close Saakashvili ally who held a firm grip on communities through his network.
The police detained 12 protesters and charged them with petty hooliganism. One journalist for the Georgian Public Broadcaster was injured as she was hit in the head by a water bottle and fainted.
Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said the police is protecting UNM members to ensure their safety.
“I want to say that all those people will be identified and punished,” he said. “We condemn and we won’t allow any violence.”
The Georgian Dream party on Saturday issued a statement which says the party and its activists has nothing in common with the incident in Zugdidi.
UNM will hold two more conferences and then announce its candidate for the presidential election on October 27.
Georgian Dream has already selected Education Minister Giorgi Margvelashvili as its candidate.