History in (Swear) Words


Recently, a new puzzle has engulfed the Georgian politics, as for the past few weeks the governing party and parliamentary opposition have been debating as to whether it is acceptable to swear publicly at billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, or not. The Georgian Dream argues that this is totally unacceptable and that he deserves only gratitude and thank yous, while the United National Movement is convinced of the contrary. The former governmental party believes that public swearing at the informal leader of the country is not only acceptable, but even insufficient, as he deserves even worse. This hassle was triggered by Nika Gvaramia, Director of the oppositional TV channel Rustavi 2, whose Facebook live streams and other public cursing instances against Ivanishvili were the detonator for bringing this “serious” problem onto our daily agenda.

Although the current wave was initiated by Mr. Gvaramia, the history of public swearing as a form of self-expression counts almost two decades. Then-leader of opposition and the presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze can be regarded as the pioneer in this direction. In his speech during the protests of November 7, 2007, the exhilarated Gachechiladze swore at then-President Saakashvili. Mr. Gachechiladze, who goes by the informal nickname of “Grechikha” (translated as buckwheat) thought that this wasn’t enough and went on to explain the phenomena and peculiarities of different swearing types live in political talk-shows.

Despite the fact that Gachechiladze quickly gained followers, the most dignified and remarkable of them is the ex-Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, although there were instances of the same nature presented by his predecessor PM Irakli Garibashvili. Although these were quite diverse and interesting, Kvirikashvili’s infamous swearing remains the most impressive and memorable in the history of all local TV swearings. Later, the tradition was proudly continued by the Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, who decided to use the proverbial saying live on TV and advised his political opponents to take a full swing and come all the way from Mtatsminda onto his genitals. This could have been regarded as the most recent example, proceeding that of Mr. Gvaramia, but since the latter came from the non-governmental segment, it was hailed as a criminal offense.

Ironically, it was Mr. Gvaramia of Rustavi 2 whose public swearing was followed by a meeting of government supporters, who gathered in the Rustaveli Theater. The so-called representatives of culture collectively protested Gvaramia’s impudent behavior and wrote an open letter addressed to the pro-governmental TV channel Imedi. The letter was signed by sixty protestors, who declared that Gvaramia is the “swearer of the nation”, they further demanded a revoking of Rustavi 2s right to broadcast. This action, as well as the TV story prepared by TV Imedi, was just one part of the special operation aimed at silencing Gvaramia, as the protest continued and moved into Parliament. During an official session, MP Dimitri Khundadze accused Gvaramia of stirring hatred and warned him about the expected reaction that could come from the general public. The stated “reaction” was quick to follow, as the extremist nationalistic group decided to hold a protest rally in front of the Rustavi 2 building. In an effort to neutralize the all-encompassing threats of the government, Gvaramia addressed the diplomatic corps for help. Gvaramia wrote to the US Embassy and European Union in Georgia that the text that was prepared in advance with the direction of Ivanishvili and read out by MP Khundadze and that he perceived it as an attempt of threat and intimidation.

Discussion about the possible “prohibition of swearing” and having this issue on the political agenda has clearly shown what personal interests the government really has in this whole case. To put it in Ivanishvili’s words, the government is getting ready to “turn off” Rustavi 2. How could Ivanishvili, the founding father of the Georgian Dream, imagine that the TV channel hailed as the “voice” of Saakashvili would last this long and not close down after the elections of 2012. Although the billionaire forecasted that the channel would close down even before coming to politics, reality has proven otherwise. He won’t likely be successful in this endeavor in future either, as you can’t win over time. And today it is Rustavi 2 that is writing the history, just as it was doing during the Rose Revolution and the August War.

By Zaza Jgarkava

25 April 2019 22:21