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Opposition removes cells from Rustaveli

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, July 27
The “radical” opposition have ended their more than three month-long protest rallies against President Mikheil Saakashvili. The improvised “cells” which were part of this protest, have been removed from Rustaveli Avenue, as has the stage from which opposition leaders addressed the demonstrators every evening.

However opposition leaders say they are not going to quit the struggle. Levan Gachechiladze, an individual opposition politician, told the demonstrators gathered at the last “information meeting” on the main street of Tbilisi on Friday not to give up. He called on opposition supporters to join the newly-established movement Defend Georgia. “Stopping the daily rallies does not mean that the opposition has stopped its protest,” Gachechiladze said. “On the contrary, this indicates the strengthening of the protest,” he added.

The opposition politicians say that the positive result of the protest rallies was that the protest charge was maintained and did not disappear, but their negative result was failing to force the resignation of the President. The “radicals” state that a “new wave” of protests will start in Autumn. “We will see a new wave of protests from Autumn, there will again be continual protest rallies. However we have to look at the structure of the opposition and in the near future the Conservative Party will start working on this issue,” Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party told The Messenger. “Sure, the opposition have lost some points in the eyes of their supporters by removing the cells from Rustaveli Avenue, however in my opinion this is not the main political issue right now. The most important thing is the future structure of the opposition forces,” he added.

The end of the protest rallies has raised the issue of who has won – the opposition or the Government. Kukava said that the Government has been the winner of the fist stage of the protests. “I can say that the opposition has lost at this point and the administration has won. The opposition has lost because its aim was to remove Saakashvili from his post and this did not happen,” he said. “The administration members are the winners because their aim was to maintain their posts and they have achieved this. However if we consider the long-term results, then obviously the opposition is the winner, because the opposition has the chance to develop and achieve its goals, while the Government has failed to restore its reputation,” he stated.

Kukava cited the lack of proper unity in the opposition as a reason for its “defeat”. “The reason of the opposition’s failure to reach the desired goal was the fact that it was diverse. We will try to take this fact into account and make the opposition tighter. Maybe it will be not so broad, but it will be more organised,” he stated.

Some analysts have said that the opposition should have organised an official closing of “cell town.” Soso Tsiskarishvili from the Experts Club suggested that the leaders should have paid more respect to their own efforts and not let the law enforcers be the ones to remove the cells. Tsiskarishvili said the non-Parliamentary opposition leaders should have told the people if they were going to take a “time out”. “It was possible to do this in an organised and calm way, meaning the rallies would have finished instead of just run low, which is what we have witnessed,” the analyst noted.

Tsiskarishvili suggested that the opposition leaders inform the people about their future plans in time. “If they are taking the time out to get stronger, they should present their vision in advance this time. It is obvious now that the rallies which have finished did not even get them close to their eventual goal,” GHN news agency quoted Tsiskarishvili as saying.