The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Thursday, January 19
Former, Incumbent UNM Members Form Two Factions in Tbilisi Sakrebulo

Following the United National Movement’s split and the subsequent changes in its parliamentary factions, political configuration has changed in the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) as well.

Three out of the seven members who entered the Sakrebulo through UNM’s party list - Mamuka Akhvlediani, Davit Avaliani and Tamaz Shoshiashvili - left the party and will continue their legislative activities in the Tbilisi faction; while the rest of the members, among them Irakli Nadiradze, Marina Datukishvili and Temur Grigalashvili, will remain in the UNM faction.

Sevdia Ugrekhelidze, who also entered the Sakrebulo through UNM party list, refused to join the factions; she said at a news briefing on January 16 that she would remain as an independent lawmaker, because “choosing one of the sides, means going against the other.” Ugrekhelidze expressed regret that despite common objectives and ideological ground, the split happened “[due to] tactical differences and personal incompatibility.”

On January 16, the parliamentary bureau took note of the decision to rename the two UNM factions and change the head of the European Georgia faction; the decision was made on January 13 by a group of 20 lawmakers, who left UNM and who are now planning to set up a new political union.

These changes were slammed by the remaining UNM lawmakers, who called on their former party-mates to leave the 21-member faction.

UNM MP Tina Bokuchava said that their request to disregard the changes in the United National Movement faction was neglected by Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.

She also expressed hope that establishment of a new UNM faction would face no legal obstacles.

Bokuchava was referring to the provision of the parliamentary regulation, according to which “members of one political party can create only one faction. An MP, except a majoritarian MP, if his/her party members have formed a faction, cannot join another faction.”

MP Otar Kakhidze, member of European Georgia faction, said that the regulation cannot hinder the UNM lawmakers from forming a faction, since UNM ran in the 2016 Parliamentary Elections not independently, but in the form of a two-party bloc with a nominal political party European Georgia.

UNM lawmakers will apply for registration of a new parliamentary faction in the near future. The six-member faction, as Bokuchava told on January 17, will include the following lawmakers: Nika Melia, Roman Gotsiridze, Salome Samadashvili, Koba Nakopia, Azer Suleimanov and herself. Several days ago, these lawmakers met ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili in Kiev and discussed the organizational matters of the upcoming congress, as well as the issues of UNM’s parliamentary representation.

MP Ramaz Nikolaishvili will not join any of the two groups. On January 16, the parliamentary bureau acknowledged his appeal to leave the European Georgia faction and remain as an independent lawmaker within the parliamentary minority.

Former UNM lawmakers will maintain the parliamentary minority status and following the establishment of new UNM faction, 21 lawmakers will remain in the parliamentary minority. (

Saakashvili believes Georgian tycoon Ivanishvili masterminded UNM’s failure

Following the high-profile breakup of Georgia’s largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday sat down with Tbilisi based television channel Rustavi 2 and gave his first interview about the processes taking place inside his party.

Saakashvili left Georgia immediately after stepping down as president in 2013 and lives in exile in Ukraine. He has been increasingly a source of fraction, causing fierce infighting among his former allies and fellow mates over what the former leader’s role shall be within the party.

In the interview, he claimed that Georgian tycoon and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, in partnership with Russia, is the mastermind of the UNM’s disintegration.

“Kremlin ordained oligarch Ivanishvili as the most vital interests to fragment the party and distance me from it. He is controlling even where trees should be planted, and do you think he lets politicians act the way they want?!” Saakashvili told Rustavi 2. “Ivanishvili is just playing by this. Irakli Alasania is a good example. He brought him to power, made him defense minister, and later, once he went against the oligarch, Ivanishvili made him disappear from politics,” Saakashvili added.

Saakashvili, who was governor of Odessa for a year and a half and now leads a major opposition party in Ukraine, said that while living in that country, he has seen many oligarchs who are more powerful than Ivanishvili and can recognize their behavior.

“When such kind processes are happening in a powerful party they always have an intention to interfere in it. They can’t prevent themselves from getting involved in the process. Moreover, the oligarch who can detain you, manipulate your party and pay a bribe, he can’t communicate with anyone if money is not involved,” Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili emphasized that if Ivanishvili’s dreams would have come true, the party congress should have been held in December and would have appointed a new chairman of the party. “They want me to be a part of history and UNM to cease existing. He planned everything in advance and most part of the party’s leadership [who departed from the party] followed this setup,” Saakashvili said.

The former president underlined that the country needs a new idea as well as ardent idealists.

“We will not be able to defeat the oligarch with money, power or lies, as he is the world champion in terms of telling lies. We will defeat him only by means of idea and idealists. The people who stayed in the party are idealists… The 20 January gathering will clarify everything,” Saakashvili argued.

The ex-president said that he must have created something very special for the country and society, as for the last three years he has been banned from entering Georgia but is still a much talked about subject in the country. (DF watch)