Ruling party Sec-Gen says public servants “free to attend protests” after opposition claims Gov’t bussed demonstrators to rally

Kakha Kaladze has thanked “any individual who loves homeland and is a patriot”. Photo: Tbilisi City Hall, 01 May 2023 - 14:41, Tbilisi,Georgia

Kakha Kaladze, the Secretary General of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Monday said “any individual, including any public servant” was able to attend “any protest” through their own decisions, after domestic opposition groups and non-governmental organisations alleged the Government had bussed in demonstrators to a rally in Tbilisi on Sunday organised by a domestic civil movement backing the authorities' “peaceful policy” on the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

The allegations claimed the authorities had sent public servants from the country’s regions to the capital city to bolster numbers in support of organisers of the rally. 

In his comments, Kaladze, who also serves as the Mayor of Tbilisi, said public servants had featured at rallies over the years and thanked “any individual who loves homeland and is a patriot”. 

He added “peace has no alternative” and stressed “no development, stability and progress” was possible without ensuring peaceful circumstances in the country. 

The rally had its organisers, and it brought together a lot of people. I will say one thing - I want to thank all those individuals for whom peace is important, for whom our homeland stands on the first place. I want to thank all those people who are imbued with patriotism, who are happy about the success of our country and its economic development”, Kaladze said. 

Gia Gachechiladze, a TV and radio host and former opposition politician, and Zaza Papuashvili, an actor, director and a former MP of the ruling Georgian Dream party, claimed they had organised the rally to back the Government's “peaceful policy” and oppose alleged attempts by the country’s foreign partners to “drag Georgia” into the ongoing conflict. 

Condemning “fake Western values opposing genuine European values” and “interference in Georgia’s internal issues”, organisers of the protest also requested “political and legal assessments” to actions of the previous United National Movement Government from authorities. 

They also voiced messages against the country’s integration into foreign alliances and blocs, and called for a “sovereign economic policy” to “eliminate unemployment, low wages and poverty”. 

Other demands at the rally involved prohibition of “LGBT propaganda” through law and changes in the school curriculum to “prevent ideological pressure” on the country’s youth.