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Former UNM members under new name

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 1
Former members of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, which governed Georgia between 2003-2012, announced the name of their new party and named acting leaders until the party congress, allegedly held in April, elects its leadership.

The name of the party composed of the former UNM members who have recently left the party will be the Movement for Freedom-European Georgia.

The party leader will be ex-Parliament Speaker David Bakradze, while the position of the executive secretary will be occupied by former Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava, who recently left prison after the court changed his embezzlement charge into exceeding of official powers and reduced his prison term.

Bakradze stated the “large-scale” party congress would supposedly be held in April, and will elect the party structures and leaders.

Until the gathering takes place, the position of the executive secretary will be taken by Ugulava, who vowed the new party will be the “new stage and choice” for the Georgian people.

The new movement also announced their future membership in the European People’s Party (EPP) and active preparations for this year’s local elections.

One of the key figures of the party, ex-secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria, stated the new movement would initially defeat the ruling Georgian Dream in the local elections, then in the Parliamentary elections and only after will they fully remove the “illegal rule” of the Georgian Dream’s founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

European Georgia members claim they can to take the country out of the current economic crisis.

A controversy within the UNM emerged after last year’s Parliamentary Elections, in which the UNM gained only 27 seats in the 150-member legislative body.

The founder of the UNM, ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted in Georgia on several charges and now holds Ukrainian citizenship, urged the UNM to boycott the elections.

However, the majority of the party did not adhere to the demand.

Following this, further arguments erupted over the scheduled party congress, with Saakashvili demanding a large-scale gathering, while the current members of the European Georgia party were against the motion and stated that the gathering should have brought only up to 2,000 people together.

In addition, the UNM members were not unanimous about the party’s leadership, with some saying Saakashvili and other former officials serving prison sentences (none of whom could fulfill their obligations), must retain their leading positions in the party.

The party split when Ugulava left prison several weeks ago.

One of the members of the new opposition party, Otar Kakhidze, said European Georgia would allegedly form three factions in Parliament.