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Georgian opposition: a step forward and two steps back03.06.2009 | 10:12
The coming summer was marked in Georgia in a special way. Svobody Square saw the summer without any tent camps or ward-cages. The authorities decided not only to clean the square but to disinfect it as well. The people in Tbilisi started talking about the decline of the protest wave; however, another burst of discontent was promised by the opposition. The situation was commented upon by political expert Ramaz Sakvarelidze.
The traffic in the center of Tbilisi through Svobody Square, which has been blocked since the middle of April, has been resumed at last. The opposition has cleared the place of the ward-cages; however, as it turned out, this act of good will does not at all mean the opposition's recession. The leaders of the protest movement declared this method of unaggressive struggle to be exhausted, and now the opposition should focus upon picketing the government facilities, specifically, the Parliament and the Mayor's Office.
According to the Georgian media, the New Rights leader David Gamkrelidze pointed out that the opposition decided to reorganize the "ward town", switching to "the spring version". There are no current plans as to the opening of Rustaveli Avenue, he said. "We have no intention to block the Parliament, though the sessions will be held along with our protests", - head of the Conservative Party Zviad Dzidziguri stated the day before.
The authorities decided to mark the "clearing" of Svobody Square in their own way, that is, by disinfecting it. This was reported to the media by Head of the Cleaning Department of the city Mayor's Office Tariel Khizaneishvili. Besides, in the middle of May, the opposition unblocked another important through-passage of the capital, Kostava street (where the public television building is located), having called its decision "an act of good will". That was the reason for spreading rumors about the defeat of the opposition and the decline of the protest wave.
However, the protesters do not seem to be in any way embarrassed by disinfection. Having cleared Svobody Square, the opposition concentrated the improvised ward-cages round the Parliament building. In addition, the stage in front of the Parliament has been renovated. According to the oppositionists' idea, about 500 wards with iron frames and rope "bars" located in different areas of Tbilisi should symbolize a police-ridden state.
Yesterday morning, the uncompromising Georgian opposition started picketing the city hall in Tbilisi. According to Rosbalt, the opposition supporters have blocked Shartava street. The oppositionists demanded that the city administration should not interfere in political processes but should stick to its own functions, specifically, take care of the city sanitation. The list of the protesters' demands also included Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation, holding early presidential elections and setting direct mayoral election.
"Instead of acting to the benefit of the city, the Mayor's Office has turned into the Unified National Movement (the ruling party of Georgia) headquarters, deciding on political grounds whether it is necessary to clean this or that area", - one of the conservatives' leaders Zviad Dzidziguri said.
Despite the open confrontation between the numerous oppositional leaders they keep talking of their solidarity. For instance, leader of Alliance for Georgia, former Permanent Representative of Georgia to UN Irakli Alasania has officially stated that his political alliance will not take part in each of the oppositional actions. In particular, they are not going to be involved in blocking the through-passages and strategic objects of the country. Alasania has also paid attention to the fact that he will stay in the ranks of the opposition and will regularly consult the oppositional powers.
The current situation did not prevent Levan Gachechiladze from announcing that since June, 1, the Georgian opposition will start another wave of the protest actions. Moreover, according to him, this is going to be the decisive stage of public speaking demanding Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation. As Echo of Moscow reports, the leaders of the opposition leave open the possibility of initiating their actions in front of the embassies. In the opinion of the opposition, the diplomatic corps representatives should cease being indifferent to the current events in Georgia. The president is disgracing his country day by day, while the diplomatic missions are only encouraging him by their inactivity, RIA Novosti is quoting the oppositionists.
The opponents of the current authorities have also accused Ministry of Internal Affairs of provocative acts in respect of the anti-governmental speakers. Thus, at the end of last week, there have been more clashes of protesters with the police. On Friday night, a mass fight broke out near the Parliament building. According to MIA, it was initiated by the picketers, while the oppositionists assert to be attacked by approximately 20 policemen in plain clothes with police batons.
The office of the Democratic Movement - United Georgia party headed by Nino Burjanadze is sure of MIA deliberately initiating provocative acts. If anyone is dressed in plain clothes, "no one will be able to identify whether they are policemen or simple gangsters but everyone is going to defend himself, anyway".