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Not United National Movement2013-05-24 13:49
The reaction of the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili at the arrest of the closest associates, General Secretary of the "United National Movement" Vano Merabishvili and the Governor of Kakheti Zurab Chiaberashvili surprised many not well-informed about the vicissitudes of party life. Saakashvili did not defend Merabishvili, who is considered by many the "right hand" of the president. In fact, a split long appeared between them. Experts believe that soon misunderstanding between leaders of the UNM may become more pronounced, and the party may split.
In the evening of May 21, after a representative of the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia reported the detention of the two former officials, Saakashvili told reporters his views about the developments. Saakashvili called on the Georgian government to reflect on how these arrests would affect the country's reputation in the international arena. According to the president, processes in the country have a negative impact on European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and Ukraine can be a good example of this. Following the arrest of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko the process of Ukraine's European integration has been frozen, Mikheil Saakashvili recalled. "It's enough to find ourselves in a similar situation, and we can forget about the policy of non-recognition," said the president.
Mikheil Saakashvili said little in defense of Vano Merabishvili besides a general statement about the inadmissibility of the arrest of former Prime Minister. He stressed that the society is well aware of Merabishvili's pros and cons, and no judgment may replace the verdict of the society.
The president spoke more about the merits of Zurab Chiaberashvili, his successful work as mayor of Tbilisi, the Georgian Ambassador to the Council of Europe and international organizations, his contribution to the successful completion of negotiations with Russia on WTO membership and his activities as Minister of Health.
The president quite evasively answered to the reporter's questions about whether he was going to vouch for Merabishvili, would Merabishvili retain the post of the UNM Secretary General and whether he would become the presidential candidate from his party.
Many were surprised that the president did not explicitly protect Merabishvili - one of the most famous of his associates. But long before the arrest of former Prime Minister Georgian mass media spread information about the internal conflict in the UNM and the confrontation between two teams led by Mikheil Saakashvili and Interior Minister. And the campaign against Merabishvili, launched not so long ago on the social networks, indicates this conflict. It was launched by the former head of the Department of Constitutional Security of Interior Ministry David Akhalaia who accused Merabishvili of the defeat of the UNM in the parliamentary election in his letter to the Facebook.
Suspicions regarding the conflict between Saakashvili and Merabishvili further strengthened after the UNM had announced a rally in support of Georgia's European course. It was previously known that the president will not take part in it. Merabishvili was expected to be a highlight of the program, and many experts predicted that a candidate for president from the United National Movement would be announced there. But Saakashvili broke down and came to the rally, ascended the rostrum and spoke to the audience in his usual manner. Merabishvili jumped down from the rostrum and walked away, which has not gone unnoticed by those present.