Rally of the United National Movement, December 6, 2017. Photo: facebook/Nugzar Tsiklauri
A few thousand protesters gathered in downtown Tbilisi on December 6 at a rally organized by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement party against what they call “a coordinated revenge by the oligarchic regimes” of Petro Poroshenko and Bidzina Ivanishvili (Georgia’s former Prime Minister).
Party activists and supporters gathered outside the Rustaveli Metro station, and marched to the Government Chancellery chanting “Misha, Misha” and holding a banner reading: “For Georgia’s Victory.” Some protesters were also waving Georgian and Ukrainian flags.
Nika Melia, Chairman of UNM’s Political Council, who addressed the rally first, told the protesters that the party and its leader were engaged in “a struggle for better future, for freedom and for maintaining independence.”
“This is a confrontation between the oligarchs and the people, the two oligarchs came together and agreed to neutralize the main flag-bearer, the main forerunner in the fight against oligarchy in Georgia and Ukraine,” Melia said. “[Our rally] today has confirmed that if Ivanishvili and Poroshenko do not withdraw from their intentions, a lot of people will take to the streets in Tbilisi and won’t quit protesting.”
Zaal Udumashvili, UNM’s candidate in the October mayoral elections in Tbilisi, addressed the protesters as well, saying the rally was named the March of Dignity, “since it is exactly a matter of our dignity to express loud protest about the ongoing processes in Ukraine and Georgia.”
He also said the decision of the “oligarchic ruler of Ukraine” to detain Mikheil Saakashvili “was reckless.” “Mikheil Saakashvili won yesterday, and he won not when the Ukrainian people released him from the police minivan, but when he was arrested.”
UNM announced the rally on December 5, when Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted by the Georgian authorities on multiple criminal charges, was temporarily detained by the Ukrainian Security Service. Nika Melia said then that the party would “move to an emergency regime.”