The messenger logo

Imprisoned ex-Mayor of Tbilisi urges to quit

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, November 7
Tbilisi's former Mayor, one of the leaders of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) who is currently imprisoned, Gigi Ugulava, has urged the current party leaders - including ex-President Mikhel Saakashvili - to stop fighting and enable the party to renew itself.

In an open letter released last week, Ugulava said has decided to step down as one of the party leaders in absentia.

He stressed that he has left his leading position in the party, but this does not mean he will cut all ties with the UNM.

Ugulava believed that Saakashvili, who is now the Governor of Odessa in Ukraine and who does not possess Georgian citizenship, would have also shared his view.

Ugulava stressed that the UNM was the only political force “capable of resisting the undemocratic regime of Bidzina Ivanishvili", the billionaire ex- Prime Minister of Georgia and founder of the current ruling Georgian Dream team.

“Now, it is our duty to make the UNM a more Western-style democratic political organisation. Only in this way will the country get rid of the oligarch Ivanishvili’s illegal rule”, Ugulava said in the letter.

Saakashvili, who is wanted for several charges by Georgia’s law enforcers, responded to the letter via Facebook, saying he was not against the party having new leadership but stressed that those heading the party election campaign for last month’s parliamentary race must also take responsibility for the party’s less than favourable results (27 seats in the 150-member Parliament).

“I propose that the UNM elects a new chairman and new members of the Political Council from such people who are not responsible for incorrect decisions during the election campaign, and who would be able to cope with existing challenges facing the party,” Saakashvili’s Facebook post reads.

The UNM revealed a split position over the letter.

The party’s new face, Otar Kakhidze, said he agreed with Ugulava’s appeal. as the UNM cannot function appropriately when some party leaders were abroad and some of them behind bars.

Meanwhile, fellow member of the party Akaki Minashvili highlighted that the UNM could win and defeat “Ivanishvili’s regime” only through Saakashvili’s leadership.

Ugulava faced charges in 2013, a year after the Georgian Dream team defeated the nine-year rule of the UNM.

He was charged with misspending budgetary funds and exceeding official powers and has served his pre-trial term for two different cases since 2014.