Georgia's ruling party and its allies in parliament have failed in their bid to remove the country's president, Salome Zourabichvili.
The vote was 86-1 in favor, but impeachment failed because a quorum of 100 lawmakers in the 150-seat chamber was not reached. Almost all opposition MPs had refused to show up for the vote.
The largely figurehead president has been increasingly vocal in her criticism of the ruling party, accusing the country's rulers of kowtowing to Russia and betraying Georgians' aspirations to join the EU.
In recent years, particularly since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine early last year, the ruling Georgian Dream party and its allies have been progressively turning away from the West while insisting that they remain committed to the constitutionally codified goal of EU integration.
Georgia applied for EU membership candidate status last year. It was denied and instead given a list of 12 priorities to work on, covering democratization and economic, environmental and foreign policy.
Brussels is expected to revisit its decision by the end of this year, granting membership candidate status or not based on the Georgian leadership's progress in these areas.
Zourabichvili, who had been elected with Georgian Dream's support in 2018, joined the country's main opposition parties in accusing the government of seeking to torpedo EU integration and instead cozy up to Moscow.
She extensively lobbied in Europe in favor Georgia's EU integration, telling MEPs and other officials that Tbilisi should be given membership candidate status despite its leaders' drift towards illiberalism. A refusal would strengthen Russia's positions in the country, she argued.
It was precisely for making visits to Europe without coordination with the government that led to her impeachment by Georgian Dream. The Constitutional Court ruled on October 16 that she had in fact violated the constitution, clearing the way for the impeachment vote.
When it came time during the October 18 impeachment hearing for the president to have her say, Georgian Dream party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and several other ruling party MPs walked out of the legislative hall.
In her speech, Zourabichvili framed the move against her as a move away from Europe.
"From this rostrum, at this difficult time, I appeal to our European partners and urge them not to abandon Georgia despite this anti-European impeachment process, because Russia must not be allowed to strengthen its influence in this region," she said.
After the vote, Kobakhidze, as well as parliamentary legal affairs committee chairman Anri Okhanashvili said that if the president continues to make unauthorized visits abroad she could face criminal prosecution after she leaves office.
Zourabichvili's six-year term expires in late 2024. She will be Georgia's last popularly elected president for the foreseeable future.
Under constitutional amendments adopted in 2017, the next president will be chosen by a college of 300 electors, including MPs and local officials.