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Opposition between Russia and Europe2009-03-16 23:12
Spring is in full swing, and political processes in Georgia are building up a head of steam. The opposition has declared that in total more than 100,000 people have expressed support for Mikheil Saakashvili's resignation. The authorities, politicians and the media are actively looking for a "Russian trail", and the siloviki are preparing to disperse the demonstrators.
The United Opposition has declared that it has gathered 100,000 signatures in favour of the current president's resignation. The action started in Tbilisi on 4th March, and then spread to the regions. A day before it started, Mikheil Saakashvili announced a Russian connection to the increasing activism of the Georgian opposition: "Large amounts of money are appearing in politics in Georgia from various sources. This money has not emerged for good intentions and this also needs to be acted upon." Following the president, the Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili promised: "As soon as we can confirm the specific facts, society will receive this information." Subsequently, the parliamentary minority accused the non-parliamentary opposition of receiving "Kremlin"
And since then, Tbilisi has not stopped looking for the generous "hand of the Kremlin". As the Georgian media have reported, on 12th-13th March a conference "What are Georgia's future prospects" took place in Vienna. It emerges that this was conducted from Moscow, so Tbilisi's theory has it. Although the organizer of the event was the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
The chairman of the committee for relations with compatriots abroad, Nugzar Tsiklauri, told the Georgian media about the "Kremlin's hand" in Vienna. He said: "Everything suggests that the conference was planned by the Kremlin, and not by the European Union." And he gave his argument - that leaders of the Georgian opposition were invited to Vienna. When reports of this reached officials in Tbilisi, many of them backed out of the trip to Vienna for various reasons.
Perhaps it is in order to express its displeasure with the Vienna meeting that Tbilisi has decided to hold a conference entitled "Russian imperialism - crimes against humanity". Actually, not to speak out against Europe.
In the Austrian capital, the main protagonist was the former Georgian parliamentarian Levan Pirveli, who has never hidden his fondness for Russia. Like many others, he left Georgia for political reasons. Now Pirveli is regarded as the head of the opposition coordination council in Europe. He has been embroiled in a high-profile political scandal: last November, long before the opposition ranks started talking about the need to normalize relations with Moscow, Pirveli declared that he had launched talks with State Duma deputies and members of the Federation Council about normalizing relations. At that time, the Georgian opposition literally disavowed both the idea of such talks, and Pirveli himself.
The situation has changed. Members of the Georgian opposition, who were no longer hiding their contact with the disgraced politician and businessman, went to the conference in Vienna. So the leader of the "Freedom" party, Konstantin Gamsakhurdia, the son of the former president, even expressed his intention to hold a press conference in Tbilisi on the results of the trip to Vienna.
There is no doubt that Tbilisi is far more troubled not by who went to the conference, nor even who organized it, but the fact that disgraced politicians and businessmen are now congregating in Europe.