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The Georgian opposition: who is on whose side?23.09.2009 | 10:13
The Georgian opposition is going to resume protest actions on Rustaveli avenue. An application for holding a meeting on September 28 has been submitted to Mayor's Office. The opposition promises to call about 50 thousand people to the streets. However, the majority of the oppositional activists have not yet defined their position: they are conducting negotiations and developing their strategy. It has also become known that former Prime Minister and current leader of party For Fair Georgia Zurab Nogaideli has met with leader of the Laborites Shalva Natelashvili. What did the former opponents talk about? The GeorgiaTimes correspondent tried to find it out.
It was the Georgian newspaper Alia that came to know about a secret meeting between the two oppositional leaders, Shalva Natelashvili and Zurab Nogaideli. The newspaper is referring to the information obtained from one of the representatives of party For Fair Georgia, parliamentarian Petre Mamradze (he was head of the Stationery Office in the times of Shevardnadze - I.P.). "Various matters were discussed, including those of conducting early parliamentary elections and turning Georgia into a parliamentary republic", - Mamradze pointed out.
Let us remind you that the whole of the Georgian oppositional range which is characterized by the absence of unity can be divided into three basic groups: supporters of the presidential government based on democracy, supporters of the parliamentary republic and a small number of monarchists. Reestablishment of monarchy is supported by traditionalists and the Svoboda (Freedom) party headed by Konstantin Gamsakhurdia (the son of the first president Zviad Gamsakhurdia - I.P.).
The idea was brought forward several years ago by Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia the Second and was supported by many oppositional parties. Former candidate for presidency, the late oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili also expressed his approval then. He even supposed that the monarchical government could streamline the restoration of the country's "territorial integrity".
The idea of establishing a parliamentary republic is no less popular. According to the social poll conducted by weekly periodical Kviris Palitra (Palette of the Week) this January, it is the parliamentary republic that the Georgians consider to be the most acceptable form of government. It was voted for by 42,5 percent out of 439 pollees. Constitutional monarchy was supported by 24,8 percent. The current presidential form of government is approved of by only 16,1 percent of respondents. The idea of parliamentary government is also supported by leader of the Way of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, as well as Zurab Nogaideli who was mentioned above.
Other oppositional parties are generally standing for presidential government. All of them demand Saakashvili's resignation and early elections. Opponents to the current government create various blocks and alliances; still, for many years they have been unable to name a single leader. It should also be noted that lately, Zurab Nogaideli has been displaying great activity.
At the beginning of autumn he came back from the United States where he had held meetings in the State Department. After that, he went to Kiev to meet the Georgian expatriate community where he made several loud statements. "We are getting ready to hold new protest actions in autumn to call upon the Georgian people to hold early parliamentary elections in Georgia. The focus should not be placed upon revolutionary change of power, for it is obvious that Saakashvili is not Shevardandze; he is not going to leave without fight and start writing reminiscences", - he stated.
Almost every day Nogaideli is voicing criticism against the current president, although he did not seem to be very active before. In April, his party hesitated until the last moment whether it should join the street actions. For Fair Georgia was the first party to announce the summer time-out. However, Nogaideli is also known for submitting an economic program and a project of reforming the Army and mending relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the beginning of the year. As to Alliance for Georgia (Alasania's party, the Republicans, The New Rights), which is considered to be the leader of the oppositional movement, it promised to submit its program only in September.
Well, what could Nogaideli and the leader of Laborites agree upon? The very fact of any negotiations between Natelashvili and Nogaideli would not be surprising at all if they had not been criticizing each other for many years. Natelashvili never refrained from using strong language when Nogaideli was the prime minister. Things have not changed much since the latter joined the opposition. Several months ago the Laborites stated that "Zurab Nogaideli had no moral right to be one of the oppositional leaders". They asserted that "Nogaideli should bear responsibility for the anti-national policy of the authorities". The Laborites Secretary General Soso Shatberashvili said that Nogaideli "has accumulated a great fortune that he is now using to ensure his party's activity".
The GeorgiaTimes correspondent addressed Shatberashvili for comments: