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Georgian Dream has weekend of setbacks

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 4
The Georgian Dream opposition coalition had a challenging weekend, after its Gori office was broken into and plans remain up in the air about a rally in Kutaisi.

The Gori office was reportedly burgled on Sunday. Unknown individuals entered the building after breaking a window, and stole two computers and documents relating to the Republican Party from 2005 until the present.

Georgian Dream spokesperson Maia Panjikidze released a statement in which she said the break-in had a “political background”.

Tamaz Shioshvili, head of Georgian Dream in Gori, says that the intention was not robbery. He noted that the office contained much valuable equipment, and that the computers stolen had no secret information on them. "I want to tell [the burglars] that there was no information on the computers they might be interested in, as we act fairly and transparently and openly state what we do,” he said.

Shioshvili also accused the police of not properly investigating the crime scene, by not taking fingerprints. "The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vano Merabishvili, spends nearly five days a week in Gori and local authorities boast that there are no crimes in town,” he said.

Zurab Abashidze of the Free Democrats has appealed to the government to properly investigate the incident. "The authorities will not have the chance to prove their claims that they strongly fight crime, and that the crime rate has significantly reduced," if they do not investigate the burglary, he said.

In addition, the date for the announced rally in Kutaisi is still unknown. Leader of the coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, announced an event on May 27, saying his supporters will converge on the country's second-largest city on June 7. However, the coalition has been unable to come to an agreement with City Hall.

Kutaisi has initially rejected Georgia Dream's request because it conflicts with the summer festival planned for June 1 - July 1 at Aghmasheneli Square. However, City Hall offered an alternative location, at Balakhvani Square.

The coalition submitted another letter to the city requesting Aghmasheneli Square on June 9 and 10, but was again denied.

On Saturday, Kutaisi offered Georgian Dream the central square of the city for June 11-15. Tengiz Topuridze, head of the administrative service, says the decision was made out “of respect for European democratic values and [so as not to be seen] disturbing freedom of expression".

He noted that dates leading up to June 11 are “overcrowded with large-scale events", but afterwards it is possible to postpone smaller events in favour of the Georgian Dream rally.

City Hall is now waiting for a response from Georgian Dream, which the coalition expects to make today.