One person is in hospital after the former president of the Georgian Judo Federation, Lomer Zhorzholiani, opened fire on a number of judo practitioners — judokas — who were demanding the resignation of Federation President Davit Kevkhishvili, according to Radio Tavisupleba.
The incident occurred on Tbilisi’s central Aghmashenebeli Avenue; reports said judoka Soso Tselauri was wounded in the femur. Four people were arrested, among them the alleged shooter, Zhorzholiani, who currently coaches Georgia’s youth judo team. Unconfirmed reports put Federation President Davit Kevkhishvili at the scene but said he left immediately after the incident.
Reports on the incident were widely circulated among Georgian social media users and sports fan on Thursday. ‘While thousands are out in the streets with the slogan #dontkillme (#ნუმომკლავ), a coach tries to kill sportsmen’, one Georgian judo fan page complained, demanding the government investigate and punish the perpetrator harshly.
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In a 1 June press release, the Interior Ministry confirmed the news, but mentioned only the initials of the accused, as is standard practice, which corresponds to Zhorzholiani’s name.
According to the ministry, officers tried to break up a fight between several men, after which a gun was fired. ‘L. J.’ was detained for ‘illegal possession and carrying of firearms’.
Two individuals were treated by doctors, and later one man was reported to have been admitted to a nearby clinic with a gunshot wound. Police later opened an investigation for ‘premeditated assault causing bodily harm’.
Zurab Zviadauri, an Olympic gold judo medalist and current MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, also confirmed the reports. Speaking to Ambebi.ge, Zviadauri called the incident ‘an armed assault in the presence of a [police] patrol’.
After the incident, the youth team joined the national judo team in a protest.
The conflict between a number of Georgian judokas and the Judo Federation began following the European Judo Championship on 26–29 April in Tel Aviv, where the Georgian team failed to win a single medal for the first time in Georgina judo history.
Since this, judokas have begun voicing grievances about financial transparency in the federation, demanding since 4 May that Kevkhishvili resign. The president sacked the entire coaching team in response but has so far refused to do step down himself. Until Kevkhishvili leaves the post, judokas say they will not take part in training or participate in international tournaments. Judokas have held several rallies against Kevkhishvili, the last one on 27 May.