Political tensions have been on the rise, as an ex-interior minister accused of cracking down on protesters has been confirmed by Georgia's parliament as the country's new prime minister, AFP reported on Sunday, September 8th.
Giorgi Gakharia was then confirmed as premier in a vote boycotted by the opposition by lawmakers who voted 98-0 to his appointment.
Gakharia, 44, is deeply hated by Georgia's opposition for overseeing a security operation against anti-Russia protests last June. In response to his appointment, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired against the demonstrations and dozens of protesters by the police. Later reports have said that some were hurt, while others lost their eyes.
Opposition supporters have dubbed Gakharia "Moscow's man" in Tbilisi and accused him of taking orders from Russia, which supports two breakaway regions of Georgia and fought a war with the country in 2008.
Meanwhile, he rejected those claims in a speech before his approval, saying Georgia remained on its path towards closer ties with the European Union and NATO, adding that the US would be their main strategic partner and there would be no limits on the cooperation between the two countries.
Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who leads the ruling Georgian Dream party and is widely believed to be the man in charge in the country, put Gakharia forward on Monday following the resignation of Mamuka Bakhtadze after just over a year in office.
Graduating from Moscow's Lomonosov University, Gakharia worked in Russia as a regional director for German aviation company Lufthansa, before his appointment as Georgia's deputy prime minister and interior minister in 2017.
Lawmakers on early Sunday, September 8th, also approved ex-prime minister Irakli Garibashvili as defence minister and the head of Georgia's state security service, Vakhtang Gomelauri, as the new interior minister. President Salome Zurabishvili, however, will have to sign off on the bill confirming the new prime minister and his cabinet lineup, according to AFP.