Two members of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party have been shot at in the southern Georgian region of Kvemo-Kartli within days of each other in what the party says are attacks by members of the ruling Georgian Dream party.
UNM party activist Humbat Jalilov was shot and wounded in the town of Marneuli on Saturday less than a week after the former mayor of the town of Dmanisi said his car had been shot at.
Speaking to the opposition-leaning TV channel Mtavari, a cousin of Jalilov’s said he had been shot in the leg while selling fruit on the side of a road.
‘Asim Guliyev approached him and shot him with a gun’, said Ilgar Aliyev, Jalilov’s cousin. ‘When he was loading a second bullet [in his gun], [people] in the vicinity prevented him’.
According to Aliyev, Guliyev is an activist for the ruling Georgian Dream party with whom Jalilov had had a conflict during the 2020 parliamentary elections. Aliyev stated that Saturday’s confrontation was a ‘continuation of this’.
Azad Karimov, the chair of the UNM’s Marneuli office, stated on Saturday that Jalilov had in 2020 revealed that a Georgian Dream activist had committed ‘forgery’.
‘[This] led to a conflict between them, which continues to this day’, said Karimov.
Karimov suggested, however, that the incident was more broadly attributable to the ruling party.
‘Georgian Dream is trying to intimidate supporters of the [United] National Movement, although they will not achieve anything with such intimidation’, said Karimov. ‘We demand that the culprit be punished with all severity’.
The incident is reportedly being investigated under articles relating to intentional minor injury and illegal purchase, storage, and carrying of firearms.
Earlier the same week, Giorgi Tatuashvili, a former Georgian Dream district chair and mayor of Dmanisi from 2017—2020, claimed that individuals with ties to the ruling party had shot at his car while he was driving. Tatuashvili defected to the UNM after being expelled from Georgian Dream in 2020.
Tatuashvili, who was not injured in the incident, suggested that the attack was connected to his political activity since leaving the ruling party.
Zura Okmelashvili and Koba Menabdishvili, the two individuals that Tatuashvili named as being responsible for the attack, are reportedly connected to the ruling Georgian Dream party. Menabdishvili is the former head of private mining company RMG Gold, with TV channel Formula claiming that Menabdishvili had the ‘protection’ of Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vakhtang Gomelauri.
Speaking on 1 November, UNM chair Levan Khabeishvili suggested that the attack on Tatuashvili was connected to next year’s parliamentary elections. He claimed that Tatuashvili’s attackers had, in their actions, communicated ‘the main message of the Russian party’, referring to Georgian Dream: ‘punish all those who think differently and do not adapt to the traitorous Russian policy’.
Georgia’s interior ministry has launched an investigation into the incident, on charges of damaging the property of others and illegally purchasing, storing, and carrying firearms.
No representatives of Georgian Dream have issued any comments or statements regarding the incidents.