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Could the Rose Revolution be restarted?2009-03-04 15:31
Georgia's former defence minister and now a vehement opposition politician, Irakli Okurashvili, has not only promised to return from Paris to his native Tbilisi, but also intends to speak on Georgian television. How will the "hawk" of Georgian politics be received in his homeland? What does Okurashvili's return hold in store - will it strengthen the opposition or provoke a split?
The date when the party leader of the "Movement for a United Georgia" Irakli Okurashvili will return to his native shores has, by all accounts, already been determined. Previously, this event was being kept as a closely guarded secret. However, the secretary-general of the party, Eka Beselia, has told Georgian journalists that Okurashvili is expected to appear on public television's "Channel One" literally next week. "The public broadcaster has to give over air-time to Irakli Okurashvili, who has been a refugee all this time, and give him the opportunity to address his own people," Day.Az quotes Eka Beselia.
People in Tbilisi are already placing bets as to whether Okurashvili will be arrested or not. Most of his fellow citizens are lost in conjecture over what they should expect from the return of the former defence minister. Previously Eka Beselia has declared that the "Movement for a United Georgia" did not intend to join any other opposition union. At the same time, she noted that Okurashvili supported the initiative of the opposition parties to launch protest actions on the streets on 9th April. But Irakli Alasania, who heads the opposition "Alliance for Georgia" now has other plans: he is preparing to go on the offensive in March. Will the militant "hawk" and the rational diplomat be able to co-exist on the same political stage? Which of the two Iraklis presents the greater danger to the regime?
The political analyst Soso Tsintsadze shared his thoughts on this issue with GHN: "How the leadership will act towards Okurashvili on the event of his arrival in Georgia depends on how Saakashvili's team assesses the resources of his former ally to organize protests. If the leadership thinks that Okurashvili can destabilize society and therefore cause serious damage, then he will, of course, be arrested. The regime has official grounds for doing this. As we know, criminal proceedings have been brought against Okurashvili."
The political commentator Ramaz Sakvarelidze noted in an interview with your GeorgiaTimes correspondent that Okurashvili could quite possibly radicalise the existing opposition mood by preaching the ideology behind the Rose Revolution. Back then Shevardnadze had falsified elections, and so his opponents thought that they also had every right to break the law. "Okurashvili might provoke the situation, when the protest action develops, let's say, into seizing parliament. In that case the authorities will be able to meet force with force. In that situation, the figure of Okurashvili suits the authorities down to the ground," thinks the political analyst. He notes that Okurashvili's influence is complex. On the one hand, he is a headache for the authorities, a source of all sorts of potential embarrassment because he has compromising material on them. On the other hand, he could break up the opposition.
To the question of whether the two Iraklis, both of whom have ambitions to become leader, will be able to find a common language, Sakvarelidze replies: "Alasania has never stood out as a "hawk" in politics. It is difficult to predict how their personal relations will develop. However, we can't rule out the possibility that their different approaches will lead to disagreements within the opposition ranks. The people will have the final say."