The Defend Georgia public movement held an indoor meeting at the Concert Hall of Tbilisi on April 13. Several hundred attendees, including MPs, opposition politicians and public figures, joined the Saturday gathering.
Former members of the ruling Georgian Dream party, MPs Eka Beselia, Zviad Kvachantiradze, Gedevan Popkhadze, Levan Gogichaishvili, Koba Narchemashvili and Beka Natsvlishvili attended the event as well.
Davit Magradze, Georgian poet and one of the founders of the movement, was the first to address the audience, outlining his position on ongoing political developments and his vision of the future.
He said the country is heading to the 2020 Parliamentary polls with a “bipolar” choice – between the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement. “Our major goal is to free the country from this bipolar impasse… Our goal is to change the ruling party so as not to bring back the party which caused so much harm to Georgia,” he said.
According to Magradze, the 2018 Presidential elections demonstrated that the GD can no longer defeat the UNM. “[But] they are not allowing us to help them, believing that they know everything better than anyone else,” he noted.
He then slammed the ruling party for its take on the judicial appointments dispute, and thanked those who left the GD for their “honorable” position. “GD is offering us a new theory of what is just and what is not, where Murusidze appears to be the one who deserves to be appreciated, and Shavgulidze appears to be the offender,” he added.
Two members of the City Council of Tbilisi, Vakhtang Shakarishvili and Jaba Jishkariani, who recently quit the Georgian Dream’s majority group, addressed the audience after Magradze.
“Those who were associated with persecuting innocent people and causing human tragedies, have been portrayed as benchmarks of fairness and this is very alarming,” Shakarishvili said in his remarks.
“On the one hand, there is an oppressive political party seeking revenge, and on the other, there is the GD which has become a platform of executioners of [Mikheil] Saakashvili and [Zurab] Adeishvili (Justice Minister from 2008 to 2012),” he said. “We need to make sure that we allow voters to have a dignified choice in ballot papers in 2020.”
Jaba Jishkariani echoed the sentiments, accusing the Georgian Dream of “rewriting the history.” “Few days ago we learnt that Levan Murusidze is a victim,” he said.
Jishkariani added that the movement will open its office and announce future plans in coming days.
MP Levan Gogichaishvili addressed the gathering as well, expressing hope that the movement would not let the two “faulty” political parties – GD and UNM – win the 2020 Parliamentary elections. “Today we are creating a platform, which will lead us to greater unity, to victory and freedom,” Gogichaishvili noted.
The organization resumed activities ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections in 2018, joining the campaign of Georgian Dream-endorsed candidate Salome Zurabishvili.