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Adjara head ‘lied on CV’, Ukrainian university says

9 March 2022
The chair of the Government of Adjara, Tornike Rizhvadze. Photo: iRegions.

Kyiv University has denounced the head of the Government of the Autonomous Government of Adjara in Georgia, claiming that he dropped out of his doctoral programme despite his CV saying otherwise.

The move followed Tornike Rizhvadze, who is also a member of the Political Council of the ruling Georgian Dream party, refusing to lay the blame on Russia for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, Rizhvadze was asked by TV Pirveli who he thought had started the war in Ukraine, to which the head of Adjara replied, ‘you should ask experts in this field. I wish Ukrainians an end to this war very soon’.

The following day, Mirotvorets, a Kyiv-based watchdog that publishes information to single out individuals it deems to be pro-Russian, declared Rizhvadze a supporter of Russian war criminals, a denier of the invasion of Ukraine, and a participant in acts of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine. The organisation also asked law enforcement agencies to respond to its claims.

Rizhvadze was heavily criticised by Georgian opposition groups, with some calling him ‘dumb’ and accusing him of making ‘traitorous statements’.

‘Did not fall in love with Ukraine’

The scandal surrounding Rizhvadze escalated when his former university stated that he had not received a doctoral degree from the university.

‘In 2015, he entered the postgraduate programme at the Institute of International Relations of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and in 2017 he was expelled of his own volition due to family circumstances’, The statement read. ‘Thus, this period of the study did not end with the acquisition of a scientific degree and qualification, as the study was interrupted’.

‘We are very sorry he as our former student did not fall in love with Ukraine’, said the university.

Rizhvadze's biography on the official website of the Government of Adjara, however, claims that he was still pursuing a doctoral degree in energy law. 

Following the university’s statement, Rizhvadze hit back, suggesting that Georgian opposition party the United National Movement (UNM) had influenced the Kyiv University’s statement.

‘A number of politically engaged media outlets, pseudo-patriotic political forces, and satellite organisations of the United National Movement […] found the time to distort my foreign policy views and my academic biography’, he said in a post on Facebook.

The head of Adjara went on to call the question posed by TV Pirveli  ‘rhetorical and provocative’ while claiming that he was forced to voluntarily take academic leave from his programme in Kyiv following the death of his doctoral advisor and ‘due to family and work circumstances’.

The feud with Rizhvadze is the latest in a series of spats between the Georgian and Ukrainian governments over Georgia’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

There has been an outpouring of anger in Georgia over the government’s response to the Russian invasion. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

 Kyiv recalled their ambassador to Georgia on 1 March over what President Zelensky called the Georgian Government’s ‘immoral position’. 

Georgian officials have repeatedly attempted to deflect domestic anger over their stance by suggesting that the UNM were influencing the Ukrainian government’s decisions.

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