The messenger logo

MIA picketed to mark two months of protests

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, June 10
The opposition has celebrated two months of continual protests against President Mikheil Saakashvili by forming a human chain in front of the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office. This and an associated rally were designed to “end the police regime” in the country and return the Interior Ministry to “public service”. The opposition activists and supporters present said the “repression machine” of the Government was put into action by the law enforcement agencies and it was therefore “logical” to hold rallies outside their buildings.

“Today’s rally at the MIA building is aimed not only at Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili but all employees of this Ministry,” Tina Khidasheli, from the Republican Party, said. “This agency has committed more wrongs than any other institution over the last 20 years,” she added.

Several thousand opposition supporters gathered on Rustaveli Avenue and marched to the MIA building in Ortachala. The demonstrators carried placards saying “Saakashvili Must Resign” and “Defend Georgia”. The rally started at 2:20 and blocked off Gulua Street close to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The leaders of the non-Parliamentary opposition said the rally would last round the clock and picketing the Ministry of Justice is also planned.

The human chain around the buildings of the MIA, Prosecutor’s Office and the Environment and Finance Ministries, which are near each other, was in place for about an hour. The opposition said it was 2 kilometres long and about 2,500 people were involved.

Kakha Kukava, a co-leader of the Conservative Party, said it is important to hold rallies in front of the law enforcement agencies. He added that despite the Government’s refusal to consider the opposition’s demand for Saakashvili’s resignation they will still hold rallies “We are going to continue holding rallies. A decision about changing tactics has not been made yet, we are still discussing this. But the decision to carry on demonstrations has already been made and we are doing this,” Kukava told The Messenger.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office have been besieged by the people and this is very symbolic and important,” the leader of the New Rights Party, David Gamkrelidze told the demonstrators yesterday. “These two institutions do a lot of bad things, including blackmailing businessmen. The dismantling of Saakashvili’s regime should start with the dismantling of these two structures,” Gamkrelidze stated.

After forming the human chain members of the youth wings of various opposition parties held a mock trial of President Mikheil Saakashvili. At the improvised session, the opposition activists charged Saakashvili with crimes against the state. Later they threw a two-headed dragon representing Mikheil Saakashvili and Vano Merabishvili into the Interior Ministry’s yard.

As the opposition are sticking firmly to their demand for Saakashvili’s resignation and the President is calling snap elections “unacceptable” political analysts suggest that the best solution might be early Parliamentary elections. Independent commentator and former Ambassador to Russia Zurab Abashidze has said the Government should listen to the opposition for the good of the country. “If the opposition and the ordinary people with them do not achieve any results everything will stay the same. If the Government refuses to listen to the opposition’s arguments Georgia’s problems will not vanish. The protests might naturally decrease in summer, but when the people get back from their holidays they will find themselves in a more acute economic crisis and the protests will increase even more.

“It is pity that the authorities don’t listen to their people. In my opinion all these talks about negotiations are going on just for the sake of politeness, and this serves the interests of the more radical forces, which say that holding dialogue with the Government is pointless,” the analyst said.

“The best possible way out of the current situation could be snap Parliamentary elections. All the changes in the Constitution and the election code that are needed should be made, and this process should end with holding Parliamentary elections at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. There is no point in keeping the new laws on the shelf until 2013,” Abashidze told The Messenger.