Politicians attacked in Tbilisi over queer support and criticism of Erekle II

6 June 2022
Republican Party Chair Khatuna Samnidze. Photo: Tata Shoshiashvili/OC Media. 

Two politicians from Georgia’s Republican Party have said they were attacked in the streets of Tbilisi on political grounds.

Khatuna Samnidze, an MP and party chair, and party member Davit Bedzenishvili said that they were attacked in the city centre on Monday.

Speaking to TV Formula, Samnidze said the attackers initially started talking to them normally, but ‘suddenly switched to swearing and insults on political grounds’.

She said the men told them they ‘cannot pass here alone, without bodyguards’, before swearing and physically attacking them.

According to both politicians, the attackers made various insults, including calling them ‘defenders of the faggots’.

Samnidze said they tried to escape the attackers but were followed, after which she brought over several nearby police officers, who separated them.

The Interior Ministry said they had launched an investigation, but did not confirm if the attackers had been arrested.

In defence of Erekle II

One of the apparent motivations for the attack was comments made by Berdzenishvili’s brother, Levan Berdzenishvili, about King Erekle II.

In an interview with the YouTube channel, Kvara posted on 2 May, Levan Berdzenishvili, a philologist, criticised Erekle II for signing the Treaty of Georgievsk with Russia in the 18th century.

The treaty established the east Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti as a protectorate of Russia, after previously having fallen under Persian influence.

‘Until King Erekle is declared a traitor, [Georgian PM] Irakli Gharibashvili will come out and [say] “Do you want a war?!” Erekle said the same’, Berdzenishvili said.

‘Who gave him the right to hand over the whole of Georgia [to Russia] and control only Kakheti?’ he said.

His comments were an apparent reference to Gharibashvili’s defence of his government’s Ukraine policy, with many in Georgia calling on the government to do more to support the country amidst the Russian invasion.

Levan Berdzenishvili faced harsh criticism for his remarks, with some calling him a traitor, while a petition was spread calling for him to be banned from giving lectures. 

In response to his comments, a demonstration attended by several public officials was held in Telavi on 28 May in ​​support of Erekle II. On 4 June, the Georgian Patriarchate also held a funeral service for the soul of Erekle II at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, despite the king not having been canonised.

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