Web Portal on Human Rights in Georgia

Minister of Sport, Namgalauri, Tsezar Chocheli and Judoists in Restaurant


Lana Beridze, Information Center of Mtskheta-Mtianeti

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia Lado Vardzelashvili, Chairman of the Sport and Youth Affairs Department Davit Namgalauri and judoists celebrated the Lomisoba Holiday in Restaurant Metropol in Mtskheta on June 6. According to the information of ICMM, Minister Vardzelashvili had invited the Judokas to the restaurant.  Mtskheta-Mtianeti regional governor Tsezar Chocheli was also in the restaurant.

Davit Namgalauri said that the judoists personally invited him and the minister to the restaurant and it had nothing to do with politics and several sportsmen’s membership in the Georgian Dream.

“We were in the Football Federation with the Minister till 5:00 pm. As you know it was Lomisoba Holiday yesterday and Judo Federation arranged a party in Metropol. They invited us to Mtskheta. We congratulated them with the holiday, stayed in the restaurant 40 minutes and left it. I did not see Tsezar Chocheli there at all,” Namgalauri told ICMM.

-So, you did not invite the judoists to the restaurant?

-Of course, we did not. We did not spend any money on that party. Yesterday, it was ordinary working day for us. They asked us to go to Mtskheta so we found short time, went there, congratulated them with the holiday and left soon.

-Were only administration members of the Judo Federation at the party or sportsmen too?

-Most part of the national team is in Brazil now. Another team of 30 sportsmen is at the tournament in Gori so they could not be at the party. Only trainers from Tbilisi and Mtskheta-Mtianeti region were there. It is huge holiday for them. Lomisoba is important holiday for me too so I wanted to go there very much. I could not go to the Lomisi Temple but went to the feast and stayed there for half an hour. We took minister with us too.

-Recently, several sportsmen joined Georgian Dream. Soon after that, Lado Vardzelashvili summoned Ambako Avaliani to his office…

-I will tell you now …

-Let me finish the question before you answer…

-It is not necessary to finish. I already guess what you want to ask. In order to inform everybody I would like to say that I do love spending time with sportsmen and our meeting in the restaurant was not first and last occasion. Next time, I would like to ask you join us in feasts. We often meet up and I wonder why it has become so important just now. I know what you connect this fact with, but our meeting had nothing to do with politics. Decisions of two or three sportsmen cannot change general picture, as you assume.

-We do not assume anything. Lado Vardzelashvili summoned Ambako Avaliani to the ministry and afterwards you met judoists in the restaurant. So, naturally journalists have questions. Why do you get surprised with it?

-We meet sportsmen 40-50 times every day. You should come and cover all our meetings. Why are not you interested in our meeting with rugby players? Are you interested only in this particular meeting?

-There is difference between meetings with sportsmen in the office and in restaurant…

-We have right to meet sportsmen and ask about their decision to join any political party because we have trained and kept them for 10 years. We have right to ask them questions. Even more, it is our obligation. So, please do not exaggerate every fact to be a tragedy or something horrible. Everything was done legally. We have been in sport for 10 years and of course sometimes we meet sportsmen and go somewhere together. If people state that all our meetings have political purposes, it will not be good. We often meet each other; we often organize feasts where we have ordinary Georgian Supras and there is nothing special in it.

ICMM asked questions to Tsezar Chocheli about his presence in Restaurant Metropol and meeting with judoists.

The regional governor said he really was in Mtskheta on Lomisoba Holiday and dropped into the restaurant Metropol for a short time. He was asked whether the meeting with sportsmen was closed but Chocheli said he had not invited anybody to this party; he was also guest there. As for Lado Vardzelashvili and Davit Namgalauri, they had already left before his arrival.

ICMM asked – are those meetings with sportsmen in the restaurant connected with several sportsmen’s joining Georgian Dream; are you going to gain those sportsmen back?  And Chocheli answered: “I cannot say who and where meets sportsmen and why. I can say about my visit in Mtskheta. As for other people’s meeting, it is not within my competence.”

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