Protest spearheaded by civic activists has disbanded this morning, as the ruling Georgian Dream party refused to meet its key demand for creating the “technical” (or National Unity) government for shepherding Georgia towards the EU candidacy.
Shota Dighmelashvili, one of the movement’s leaders, announced intention to “disrupt the government as much as possible” through subsequent and unspecified actions. Another activist, Dachi Imedadze said they would devote the following days to “restoring strength and [refining] strategic goals, which first of all means making the popular movement even more popular.”
Yesterday’s demonstration was the third rally in a month under the slogan “Going Home to Europe,” seemingly smaller than previous two but still managing to gather tens of thousands.
Following a brief gathering, some of the protesters moved to the government building and remained overnight, aiming to disrupt the arrival of PM Irakli Garibashvili for the scheduled cabinet meeting at 11:00 on Monday. Despite the police warnings to disband or face arrests, the cabinet meeting was finally postponed for the later time, and the gathering has disbanded.
Following the massive gathering on June 24, the civic activists and opposition parties moved to the provinces to canvass support. Several of these events were disrupted by aggressive, and in few cases, violent groups, that the activists say were orchestrated by the ruling party’s local chapters and local governments.
The disappointment at the failure of the July 3 rally to come up with concrete results or a plan of action was palpable among the participants and sympathizers on social media. On the same day, however, several CSOs presented a detailed plan for addressing the EC recommendations.
Pledging to mobilize citizens for the long-haul, Imedadze pledged further pro-Europe meetings in Tbilisi and provinces “further protest, be it in the form of a demonstration or otherwise, is stronger and more acute.”
GD Responds to Protesters, Slams CSOs
GD leadership has gone to pains to present the July 3 meeting as a conclusive failure of civic mobilization. Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze remarked that it revealed “the [United National Movement], its radical youth wing “Shame Movement” and its satellite CSOs do not have any resources to organize unrest and revolution in Georgia.”
In a special briefing today MP Kobakhidze said the purported support to the EU candidacy was “a sham” to conceal the true aim of the organizers “to achieve their own, narrow political goal – to overthrow the government and retake power”.
The governing party chair also railed against what he called “rich NGOs”: “yesterday, the formal boundary between the UNM and the richest [CSOs] operating in Georgia was finally erased.” The GD Chair also lambasted the opposition saying it showed its “true anti-state nature.”
He brushed aside the CSO proposals, and pledged “not to deviate” from GD’s recent plan for achieving 12 conditions outlined for Georgia’s EU candidacy. He said “GD will meticulously fulfill each point in the appropriate format and time frame.”
“Those who are actually interested in the realization of the will of 85% of the Georgian population, the integration of Georgia into the EU, and our country receiving candidate status, will naturally be actively involved in the implementation of this plan,” MP Kobakhidze said.
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili also criticized what he termed “self-appointed non-governmental organizations” saying that “CSO sector that was being built for the years has crumbled down, because they could not master their own political ambitions and practically became a political party.”