The Lelo and European Georgia opposition parties have refused to join a rally planned by the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party in central Tbilisi tomorrow, where demonstrators intend to demand the release of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili from prison.
The UNM, the party founded by Saakashvili, claims the former president is a ‘political prisoner’ and that only Saakashvili is able to play a decisive role in changing the current Georgian Dream government.
European Georgia chairman and former ally of Saakashvili, Giga Bokeria, says the UNM rally ‘has the wrong goal’ and that he will not take responsibility for possible consequences.
The rally aims to express support for a concrete political leader and creates false expectations that only Saakashvili is able to weaken Georgian Dream,” Bokeria said.
Lelo opposition party founder, Mamuka Khazaradze, states that the UNM, which organised the rally, ‘has no plans as to next steps.’
The UNM is likely unaware of what may happen after the rally. We have not been informed of it so far. Taking part in a rally is a responsibility and we cannot share that responsibility without foreknowledge of UNM’s plans,” Khazaradze said.
Droa opposition party leader, Elene Khoshtaria, says that Saakashvili’s imprisonment and hunger strike are a ‘problem for the country’, and the rally ‘is not about Saakashvili’s personality.’
She says that Saakashvili is a ‘political prisoner’ and that people should take to the street to protest this.
Saakashvili, who was arrested in Tbilisi on October 1, just ahead of Georgia’s municipal elections, has called on the public to join the UNM rally tomorrow.
This is not the UNM’s rally. This is a rally of the Georgian people against oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili [founder of Georgian Dream] who is running the country from behind the curtain.” Saakashvili maintained earlier today.
He says that he is a ‘personal prisoner’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of Ivanishvili ‘who is Russia’s man.’
Saakashviili returned to Georgia after eight years in political exile to support his UNM party in the October 2 municipal elections and replace the current Georgian Dream government, as he says, via snap parliamentary elections.
The ex-president, who is a citizen of Ukraine and chairs the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council, wishes to be released from prison before municipal election run-offs on October 30.
Saakashvili was convicted in Georgia in absentia back in 2018 and was sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of authority.
He has also been charged with four other offences related to illegal seizure of property, embezzlement, illegal rally dispersal, and illegal border-crossing.