The United National Movement, Lelo, Droa, Girchi-More Freedom and European Georgia parties rallied yesterday in Batumi, the coastal city where Georgian Dream claimed razor-thin victory in October 30 mayoral runoff, to protest “void” elections.
UNM chair, Tbilisi Mayoral candidate Nika Melia and other opposition leaders, including Lelo leaders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, and Elene Khoshtaria of Droa, have attended the event, the opposition’s first major post-election rally in the run up to planned large-scale protest in Tbilisi on November 6.
Addressing the crowd, Nika Melia said they would follow the path of rallies and use “all available non-violent and peaceful means to return the stolen elections back.”
Defending the idea of street protests, Melia asked the crowd: “Should we let this state turn into Belarus?!” “Large-scale protests will not slow down until the truth prevails,” he stressed.
The UNM chair also asserted that the pre-election coalition with other opposition parties would expand: “It is my belief, that this country should have coalition government in the future, which is the opportunity for the country to refuse the Soviet past and proudly walk the path towards the European family. This is the reckoning of every sane person, except for the team of Bidzina Ivanishvili.”
Melia also spoke of the health of hunger striking jailed Mikheil Saakashvili, stressing the need for his transfer to civilian hospital. He said the protests starting outside Rustavi prison, where Saakashvili serves his six-year sentence, would continue.
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UNM’s Batumi Mayoral candidate, Giorgi Kirtadze, who narrowly lost with 48.98% to Georgian Dream candidate Archil Chikovani, who garnered 51.02% as per official results, also addressed the rally: “no one can say these elections ended with GD’s victory.”
He maintained that Georgian Dream founder and former Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili was defeated in Batumi, despite “intimidation, blackmail, bribery.”
Noting that his team is addressing legal mechanisms to demand recounts of all ballots and open voter lists, Kirtadze vowed to lead “an uncompromising struggle till the end.”