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Possibility of civil unrest raised

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 20
The election campaign may have just received an unpleasant spin.

On March 15, leader of the Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, told representatives of the diplomatic corps in Tbilisi that the administration is preparing for possible civil unrest in the country, citing what he called "paramilitary" groups being created in western Georgia. The government, namely President Mikheil Saakashvili, claims the opposition is promoting the idea of civil war.

Unfortunately, the past shows that elections are not just a simple part of the political game in Georgia; rather, they are a battlefield of life and death. Since Georgia regained its independence some 20 years ago, no government has voluntarily given up its power. In 1992, President Zviad Gamsakhurdia was ousted in a bloody coup, while in 2003 President Eduard Shevardnadze was removed by a peaceful revolution. The current leadership, which came to power through that revolution, may continue this tradition, as the opposition has suggested.

Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) party has already begun campaigning, referring to its opponents as “political mummies” who want to “return the country into the past” and are “Russian agents” under the thumb of Putin. Leader of opposition coalition Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is labeled as a "Russian project". Through this, the administration hopes to create a picture of the opposition that is unacceptable to the Georgian people, and whose victory is unimaginable.

Until the appearance of Ivanishvili, the opposition was fragmented and had no chance whatsoever to create even the slightest obstacle to the UNM's victory. However, Ivanishvili has reshuffled the plans of the administration, by presenting a formidable foe, one who has galvanized the opposition. While in the beginning the UNM was nervous and panicked, it has managed to mobilize, and switch on those administrative resources and budgetary means with which it can combat Ivanishvili.

The opposition has called the administration an authoritarian regime, but now Alasania is going so far as to call Saakashvili’s governance "totalitarian". He and his allies are sure that the ruling party will do everything in its power to manipulate the elections and secure victory, as only a constitutional majority victory in the parliamentary elections will enable current President Saakashvili to comfortably transition from the presidential seat into that of the Prime Minister.

So the opposition has attempted to alert the Western community that the government is preparing for potential civil unrest, and special military groups have been created for that purpose. Government officials have only acknowledged that there are groups of special volunteer reservists being trained as part of a state program. The opposition has promised to submit evidence of Alasania's claims, but in the meantime people do not want to see war again – God bless Georgia!