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Independence Day becomes political

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 3
May 26 is Georgia's Independence Day, but lately the date has been associated not with celebration, but with protest.

Last year, a rally in Tbilisi was the scene of a clash between police and protesters, resulting in casualties and controversy. This year, the administration decided to move the main celebration to Kutaisi, in part to open the new Parliament. Some members of the opposition believe that President Mikheil Saakashvili and his government want to distance itself from Tbilisi, as it is where he is least popular he lost the city in the 2008 election. Holding the Independence Day event in Kutaisi will prevent another out-of-control protest.

Instead, the Mayor's Officer decided to organize an exhibition of Georgian-made products on Rustaveli Avenue, so as to hinder the possibility of any kind of rally.

The opposition, however, has its own plans. The Georgian Dream coalition is planning an event for that day, to officially launch its campaign. It plans to organize a huge rally in one of the stadiums of the capital. A Georgian dream representatives denies that this will be a protest, but instead is a positive rally in support of Bidzina Ivanishvili and his political movement. However, there are some doubts that the city will grant the use of one of its stadiums for the rally. Furthermore, Ivanishvili did not invite Nino Burjanadze onto his team and so the opposition is fractured. Georgian Dream therefore needs a very visible show of strength on May 26 in order to overcome any doubts the public may have.