The antagonism between Georgia's main political parties has become ugly in recent weeks. And now it's just gotten even uglier.
Last week, the parliament, which is controlled by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition, postponed an address by President Mikheil Saakashvili, the head of the opposition United National Movement (ENM).
The two camps have been at odds after the president's party lost legislative elections to Ivanishvili's coalition in parliamentary polls in October.
The parliament's decision led to fisticuffs between supporters of both political factions outside the National Library in Tbilisi, where Saakashvili was expected to deliver his speech. He later ended up giving the address from his presidential palace.
Almost a week later, on February 13, the violence carried over into a studio at Maestro TV
, where two parliamentary deputies were brought in to discuss the scuffles outside the library.
According to Civil.ge
, Georgian Dream deputy Koba Davitashvili criticized police "for their failure to prevent the February 8 incident" and put "blame for what had happened outside the National Library on ENM lawmakers, saying that the latter provoked the incident."
His debate foe, Sergo Ratiani from the ENM, hit back:
When MP Ratiani said that Davitashvili, and GD in general, was trying to evade responsibility for what happened on February 8 by shifting the focus of debates on unrelated issues, including on the previous authorities’ alleged misdeeds of the past, MP Davitashvili shouted at him saying that he was almost “killed” by the previous authorities and he would speak about it. Davitashvili was beaten on November 2007 when police forces broke up anti-government protests.
When Ratiani asked him what difference did those past events make today in respect of a specific issue debated now, Davitashvili responded: “What are you talking about? What difference does it make that you were killing me? Next time when you (referring to ENM lawmakers) gather I will come and break your faces and then I’ll go into the jail."
“You behave very badly, you have no arguments and then start shouting,” Ratiani responded.
That set off Davitashvili, who accused Ratiani of being "scum, [a] murderer, and not a man."
In response, Ratiani smashed a glass in front of him on the table, and the two squared up to each other and exchanged a few blows before being dragged away by staff.
Shortly afterward, the broadcast was taken off the air.
-- Luke Allnutt