Minister Requested Wrestlers to Choose Between Sport and Politics
Information Center of Mtskheta-Mtianeti
Several wrestlers have joined political coalition Georgian Dream lately. Olympic Judoka Champion Zurab Zviadauri joined the Georgian Dream on May 14. He said before joining the political party he had been oppressed but did not name concrete persons.
Several days later another Olympic Champion and Gold Medal Winner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in free wrestling Revaz Mindorashvili also joined the Georgian Dream. Soon, five-times Europe and World Champion Ushangi Kuzanashvili, Europe Champion Giorg Baindurashvili, Europe Champion Levan Tsiklauri and Georgian Champion Ambako Avaliani also joined the political coalition.
In the morning of June 4, the press-center of the Georgian Dream reported that at about 10:00 pm on June 3 several people forcibly pushed Ambako Avaliani into the car near the St. Nikolas Church in Tbilisi and drove him away.
The political coalition supposed that Ambako Avaliani was kidnapped because of his political views because several hours before the incident he had met the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia Lado Vardzelashvili.
“The Champion of Georgia intended to continue his career in sport but the Minister refused him. The Minister of Sport told him he could not continue activities in the Georgian sport because of his joining Georgian Dream. Afterwards, Ambako Avaliani and Lado Vardzelashvili had unpleasant talk which was followed by threats from the Minister’s side,” the Coalition representatives said.
On June 5 Ambako Avaliani said that he was taken to the meeting with the Minister falsely. He said the Minister’s words contained threats against him. Namely, the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs threatened the Champion that he would have stopped his salary unless he quitted the Georgian Dream. Ambako Avaliani said that he had met Lado Vardzelashvili in Giorgi Udesiani’s office near the hippodrome. Udesiani also attended the meeting.
“I told him I had not quitted the National Team and was continued my sport activities. Simply I had demonstrated my political views. He told I had to choose between the sport and politics. I again repeated him that I was not going to become a politician and wanted to stay in sport but despite all that I had my political opinions. Then he said he would sieze my salary and expel me from the national team. Finally our conversation turned into a quarrel with verbal insulting and threatening… he said they [Georgian Dream] will not succeed and will soon finish their activities,” Ambako Avaliani recalled details of his conversation with the Minister and added that neither Vardzelashvili nor anybody else can change his opinion.
On June 5 Zurab Zviadauri also spread statement. He accused the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia Lado Vardzelashvili of the oppression on the sportsmen who joined Georgian Dream.
“Recent oppression facts against me and my friends have turned into an open aggression by the government against us. My friends have been summoned to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, where officials tried to bribe them and to compel them to refuse support of the Georgian Dream in exchange of material benefits. The Minister Lado Vardzelashvili personally intimidates and assaults sportsmen. He openly told Europe Champion Nodar Metreveli that they would have switched Zurab Zviadauri to the electricity unless they were afraid of US observers. These words demonstrate the real face of our government,” Zurab Zviadauri stated.
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