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Ugulava becomes a jack of all trades

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, April 28
Gigi Ugulava, the outgoing Mayor of Tbilisi who is standing for re-election, began his official election campaign early in the morning of April 27 under the slogan There is Still Much to be Done. Ugulava tried his hand at various forms of work, saying that everything seems different from the position of an ordinary citizen and by doing this he would familiarise himself with their problems and interests to a greater extent before the elections on May 30.

Cleaning windows, baking bread, cutting meat and packing medicine were some of Ugulava’s exploits during the day but not all. Amazed citizens of Tbilisi waited for the outgoing Mayor to display even more talents. Opposition members however had various concerns about Ugulava’s campaign. Manana Nachkebia from the Alliance for Georgia told The Messenger, “It is difficult for me to decode Ugulava’s action plan, but I doubt that he is actually concerned about members of these professions or their oipinions. I believe Tbilisi citizens are wise enough to realise that Ugulava’s cleaning, baking, and packing from morning till night, as if he is dying for his city, are part of his PR campaign and they won’t therefore have any impact on people. I know Tbilisi is a city with different values and what Ugulava is offering the citizens by this sort of campaigning does not relate to their own aspirations,” Nachkebia said.

Members of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) connected Ugulava’s attempts to engage in “unaccustomed professions” with his chances of winning the Mayoral elections on May 30. “Gigi Ugulava is trying to acquire different skills and try his luck in different positions as he will have to do lots of these things in future,” MP Levan Vepkhvadze said. “It’s amazing to see Gigi baking, cleaning windows and cutting meat. I definitely respect every profession but Ugulava will have to master one of these when he loses the Mayoral elections.”

Political analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili told The Messenger, “Ugulava should have started his campaign by sharing the problems of Tbilisi residents. This would have been a path to their hearts. He could definitely have highlighted his achievements as Mayor but discussing their main problems would have been a better way to start,” Khutsishvili said, stressing that Ugulava’s nomination for re-election was absolutely feasible as doing otherwise would have meant that the United National Movement (UNM) did not trust one of the major “players” of the ruling party.

Meanwhile Guram Chakhvadze, MP from the National Democratic Party and Head of the Inter-faction Monitoring Group on Local Self Government Elections, has appealed for all parties to conduct themselves properly. “The fairness of the upcoming elections is important for our country, thus we appeal to all agents if the State to act within the law and avoid putting any pressure either on voters or political representatives. If they do they will be sentenced,” Chakhvadze stated. He encouraged NGOs and other interested bodies to cooperate with the group.

Chakhvadze also appealed to the Central Election Commission to respond to reports of violations of electoral law and take sanctions in each case of the misuse of administrative resources. In response Giorgi Khutsishvili told The Messenger, “The Government has an important supply of administrative resources, which is natural, but it is important that it doesn’t use these in order to falsify the elections. It should ensure transparency and the attendance of observer missions at each district.”