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Georgian PM claims UNM planned to kill opposition leaders in election ‘provocation’

29 October 2021
Irakli Gharibashvili. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has claimed — without evidence — that the opposition United National Movement (UNM) planned to assassinate several opposition leaders after the first round of municipal elections in order to precipitate a coup.

In an interview with the pro-government TV channel, Imedi, the PM said that following the killings, the opposition would storm and take over government buildings.

He did not present any evidence for the claims nor give details into any official investigation into the allegations. A spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office told OC Media she did not know if an official investigation had been launched.

Gharibashvili said that the UNM had planned to gather supporters on the central Rustaveli Avenue ahead of the announcement of the results on 2 October, where former President Mikheil Saakashvili was to appear.

The third Georgian President, who was wanted for abuse of power during his tenure, was arrested on the eve of the elections after being smuggled into the country. 

Gharibashvili said on Thursday that after Saakashvili appeared, police would be forced to deploy riot units to arrest him and the confrontation would begin.

‘The calculation here was that several people, including opposition leaders, I do not want to say the names to avoid excessive speculation, to murder  2–3 people, members of his party’, he said.

‘There was a plan to seize the [Central Election Commission] building, the parliament building, the Chancellery building, and turn our country into complete chaos.’

Gharibashvili made a similar statement on 3 October, claiming that Saakashvili and the UNM planned to mobilise around 10,000 people to force the police to use force to arrest Saakashvili. ‘We would have to use special measures, and at that time, one of the possibilities was considered to be the assassination of several opposition leaders', he said.

Saakashvili is currently on hunger strike in Prison 12 in Rustavi.

The United National Movement declined to comment on the claims.

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