Marneuli Mayor Resigns, Facing Criminal Charges

Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov was arrested in June 2018 on charges of abuse and inhumane treatment towards one of his constituents – Elchim Alakhverdiev.

Three other men have also been charged with abuse: United National Movement MP Azer Suleymanov, a Georgian Dream member of the Marneuli City Assembly, Ramin Alakhverdiev (no relation to the victim), and a relative of Abazov’s identified by the initials E.G.

In a press conference on the day of his arrest, a representative of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office explained the circumstances of the charges levied against Abazov. Elchim Alakhverdiev, a resident of Marneuli, attended the protests in Tbilisi on June 10. During the rally, he broadcast a video live on Facebook where he expressed his dislike of Mayor Abazov and insulted his wife. Later that evening, he received a phone call from Askerov asking to meet at the United National Movement office. When E. Alakhverdiev arrived, Suleymanov, R. Alakhverdiev, E.G., and several other unidentified persons were waiting. Suleymanov was angry about E. Alakhverdiev’s comments at the rally, and accused him of insulting Abazov’s wife at the instruction of someone else, whose name he demanded. “After that, Suleymanov, Ramin Alakhverdiev and E.G. physically abused him,” the Prosecutor’s Office reported.

Badly beaten, E. Alakhverdiev was then taken to a local restaurant by Jeikhun Choidarov, another member of the Marneuli City Assembly, where Abazov was waiting. “As soon as they arrived, Abazov spat at Alakhverdiev, forced him to turn on Facebook live and verbally insult his own wife. Then Abazov forced the man to urinate in a glass and wash his face with it,” according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Abazov was held in a local jail from his arrest on June 13, 2018, until December 2018, when he was released on a 10,000 GEL ($3,752) bail at the approval of the Rustavi Regional Court.

Two months after his release, on Wednesday, Abazov addressed the Marneuli City Assembly with his resignation from his post as mayor. “I consider that a person acting as a defendant [in a legal case] should not perform the duties of a civil servant before the final verdict is delivered in the criminal case. This is the only reason I am resigning. I will continue the legal dispute to prove my innocence,” said Abazov. The former mayor maintains that the entire incident “was a well-organized provocation and there is no evidence or facts about my involvement.”

Abazov was suspended from office pending the trial, replaced ad interim by Deputy Mayor Zaur Tabatadze.

Accomplice Azer Suleymanov was also charged with physical abuse, but as a member of Parliament, he is protected by immunity and was not detained. The Prosecutor’s Office brushed off the charges against him, saying it was not serious and his role as an MP would not be affected. Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, however, sent a letter to acting Chief Prosecutor Mamuka Vasadze encouraging him to fully investigate the charges regardless of party affiliation or political position. “It is necessary to punish each participant in the incident," said Kobakhidze.

Abazov is also a member of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, Georgian Dream Secretary General, affirmed at the time of his arrest that everyone must be held accountable for their actions, regardless of which party they represent.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Reginfo

14 February 2019 19:40