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People quit Georgian opera star’s political party

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 14
Giorgi Rukhadze, an expert on foreign affairs and ex-member of the Christian Democratic Movement, has quit the political unity headed by famous Georgian opera singer Paata Burchuladze ahead of October 8 Parliamentary Elections.

Rukhadze says Burchuladze’s political coalition with ex-members of the previous ruling United National Movement and non-parliamentary opposition New Rights, was affiliated with the founder of the current ruling Georgian Dream (GD), billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"It is very hard for me to say what I have to say, but I'm leaving Paata Burchuladze’s party, since it is no longer Burchuladze’s movement,” Rukhadze said.

“This is no longer an alternative to the Georgian Dream or the United National Movement. Paata Burchuladze is not a leader anymore. This is a force ruled by Pavle Kublashvili (ex-UNM member) and Giorgi Meladze (ex-UNM member) and it serves Bidzina Ivanishvili’s interests”, Rukhadze added.

Rukhadze stressed Ivanishvili “destroyed” Burchuladze as a politician.

“Burchuladze was playing an independent political game, but Ivanishvili closed all the financial channels for him and then he opened one channel for him through the Girchi party (composed of ex-UNM members),” said Rukhadze.

Rukhadze’s quitting was preceded by the fact of leaving of Khatuna Lagazidze, a political analyst, who was also a member of Burchuladze’s State for People Party.

However, unlike Rukhadze, Lagazidze claims Burchuladze is affiliated with the UNM, “a bloody regime” which ran the country in 2003-2012, and not with Ivanishvili or the current Government.

Lagazidze also said she faced threats from some members of Burchuladze’s new unity and asked for a state support.

Lagazidze was summoned at the Prosecutor’s Office and after this visit she said now she “feels protected.”

Ivanishvili also says Burchuladze serves the interests of the UNM. He recalled the 2012 parliamentary elections and said prior to the elections he asked Burchuladze to join the GD coalition to defeat the UNM, but Burchuladze demanded “huge money” instead.

Burchuladze said that Ivanishvili’s statements were a “lie”, and also condemned the claims made by his former party members.

Burchuladze founded the Georgian Development Fund in November 2015. At the time, he said the aim of the fund was to help locals, as he believed the current Government had failed to resolve the problems of its citizens.

Burchuladze and members of the Fund did not exclude the possibility that the Fund might transform into a political party prior to this year’s Parliamentary Elections in October.

The Fund did indeed eventually evolve into a political party named State for People.

This August, Burchuladze held a special briefing wherein he stated that four political groups would unite and create a new political coalition for the upcoming October 8 Parliamentary Elections under his name and party.

The four uniting parties were the State for People party itself; Girchi - a political unity composed of former members of the previous ruling United National Movement (UNM); New Rights - a non-parliamentary opposition party; and New Georgia - a political party chaired by former UNM member Giorgi Vashadze.

Shortly after the announcement was aired, journalist Merab Metreveli, who was in Burchuladze’s State for People, quit the party.