UNM, three other parties nominate ex-Tbilisi mayor Ugulava for Poti mayor

Gigi Ugulava said that he is getting involved in the opposition’s fight to defeat the ruling Georgian Dream in the upcoming municipal elections. Photo: IPN.

Agenda.ge, 21 Aug 2021 - 19:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia, Droa and Girchi-More Freedom opposition parties have nominated former Tbilisi Mayor under UNM Gigi Ugulava for Poti mayor in western Georgia ahead of the October 2 municipal elections. 

During the presentation earlier today Ugulava, who left European Georgia earlier this year, stated he is ‘getting involved in the fight for a better country.’ 

He and the UNM head Nika Melia repeated  that the October 2 elections ‘are also a referendum’ which ‘must lead to the defeat’ of the ruling Georgian Dream party. 

The April 2021 EU-mediated agreement between the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the majority of opposition parties proposed the holding of repeat parliamentary elections if the ruling Georgian Dream party received less than 43 per cent of votes in the October 2 municipal elections. 

Opposition says that the ruling party will have to accept repeat parliamentary elections if it receives less than 43 per cent of votes in the October municipal elections. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

However, ahead of the elections the ruling party withdrew from the agreement ‘because of the refusal of the main opposition party, the UNM, to join the agreement.’ 

The UNM did not join the agreement because it disliked a stipulation on the amnesty of convicts of June 2019 protests in Tbilisi.

The opposition parties are still hopeful that the ruling party may accept the holding of repeat parliamentary elections if it receives less than 43 per cent of votes in the upcoming elections.. However, the Georgian Dream says that ‘no repeat elections will take place.’ 

Ugulava served as Tbilisi mayor between 2005 and 2013.

He was arrested back in 2014 for embezzling more than four million lari in public funds between 2010 and 2011. 

The prosecution said that the money was used to create 800 fictitious job positions within municipal service Tbilservice Group, through which funds were then funneled to pay the salaries of UNM party activists. 

He was released in 2017 and soon became the secretary general of a newly created European Georgia opposition party. 

In February 2020 Ugulava was sentenced to three years and two months in prison for the embezzlement of 48 million GEL from the Tbilisi Municipal Development Fund while in office.

However, to prevent political escalation in the country, President Salome Zurabishvili pardoned him and another opposition leader Irakli Okruashvili in May of the same year. 

Ugulava left European Georgia after the 2020 parliamentary elections because of controversies with the head of the party Giga Bokeria on the party’s future.