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Rustavi 2 TV anchor to run for Tbilisi Mayor

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, June 21
Zaal Udumashvili - a former TV anchor of Georgia’s main opposition-minded channel, Rustavi 2 TV - has quit television in order to run in the Tbilisi mayoral elections this October as a candidate of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party.

Udumashvili announced his departure from TV at the end of the Kurieri news program and thanked all his colleagues and viewers.

He said he is ending his 25-year career in order to defeat the “anti-democratic” regime established by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

“From now on the TV screen will not be separating us. I made a decision and I am going into politics,” he added.

The now-former reporter said that he had had very interesting years as a journalist and gained significant experience in how to combat injustice. He remembered the dispute over Rustavi 2 TV ownership and added that Georgia has its main fight ahead.

“The time has come when I have to become an active participant of important political processes and make my contribution to the fight which will end the total disorder and one man's rule of the country,” Udumashvili stressed.

The former TV anchor received an offer from the UNM around two weeks ago, after which he travelled to Ukraine to meet the UNM's informal chair, ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, and other members of the UNM.

The UNM also had another mayoral candidate, Nika Melia, but the party decided to nominate him as their candidate to the City Council of Tbilisi.

As for the mayoral candidates of the other parties, the ruling team is going to nominate the second Vice-Premier and Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, and the parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia has officially named Elene Koshtaria as their candidate.

An independent candidate of Tbilisi City Council and environmentalist, Aleko Elisashvili, may also run, but he has yet to confirm. Some time ago Elisashvili confirmed that he had consulted with the Republicans and Free Democrats non-parliamentary opposition parties about the upcoming mayoral elections.

However, Elisashvili has not made any decision as of yet.