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Opposition mark two years since November 7, 2007

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, November 9
Some of the non-Parliamentary opposition parties presented reports on 6 years of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s rule on November 7, the second anniversary of the day when riot police dispersed peaceful demonstrators on Rustaveli Avenue with rubber bullets and tear gas. Representatives of The Way of Georgia, the People’s Party, Democratic Movement-United Georgia, the Conservative Party, the Green Party, Industry will Save Georgia, the Women’s Party and the Movement for United Georgia participated in this event at the Radisson SAS Iveria Hotel, initiated by the leader of The Way of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili.

The opposition had failed to influence the political processes of the last 6 months, Zourabichvili said in her opening remarks. “We held dialogue, came out into the streets, entered Parliament and left Parliament. Today we should all admit that we cannot help the country, which is moving towards a totalitarian regime,” she said. According to Zourabichvili, other opposition parties, including the National Forum and the Alliance for Georgia, had also promised to present reports later. “We hope all the reports will be compiled and issued as ‘Georgia’s black book’ by November 23,” she said.

Some opposition leaders, including Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party, demanded that a criminal case be brought against President Saakashvili. “He has to go to court. Some Eastern European states have already gone through this – some of the leaders there have been brought to court,” Kukava said. Later the Conservatives presented a short documentary, listing some of their accusations against the President, including the liquidation of so called “criminals in law” in Svaneti and allegations concerning the controversial death of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. The list also included the events of November 7, 2007, the August war and the Mukhrovani ‘mutiny’ case.

Former Parliament Speaker and now leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia Nino Burjanadze suggested in her address that “there is no stability without democracy.” She said that while in Government she had supported the stability the Government was trying to bring for the sake of it, but “I realised this was a mistake,” she said. “It is impossible to achieve stability without having a democracy. Let’s not repeat these mistakes,” she added.

Burjanadze said that the November 7 events had been “doubly difficult” for her. “I am convinced that it was possible to avoid the developments of November 7,” the former ally of Saakashvili said.

Later on Saturday a group of NGOs held a rally outside Parliament initiated by Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights head Nana Kakabadze. The participants of the rally called on the Government to release “political prisoners” and to return Imedi TV to its legal owners. They also demanded that an electoral environment in which “free and fair elections” could be held must be created. Earlier the same protestors held a rally outside the Georgian Public Broadcaster building, demanding impartial media coverage of current political events in Georgia.

Some of the politicians attending the rally at GPB reiterated the demands of the opposition. “Our demands have not changed – we demand urgent snap elections, the release of political prisoners and freedom of the media. The rallies will not end until these demands are met,” Eka Beselia from the Movement for United Georgia said. “The rallies will not stop while Saakashvili is the leader of Georgia. When you want to positively change something in the country and you fail, you should try again. Otherwise the country will not be able to stand on its feet,” the leader of the public movement Defend Georgia and “radical” opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze said.

A day before the anniversary President Saakashvili commented on former senior officials who have moved into the opposition. “Most of the politicians who used to occupy senior posts in the Government but were sacked have changed a lot. Today they are defending the interests of the enemies of the country, and in some cases speak with the enemies’ words,” Saakashvili said at a meeting with Ilia Chavchavadze State University Students on Thursday.