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UNM announces rally against Russia’s Gazprom

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, February 25
The United National Movement (UNM) opposition party plans to hold a symbolic rally against Russia’s energy giant – the Gazprom company - on 6 March. The rally was announced by the leader of the UNM, Davit Bakradze at a special press conference on February 24.

Bakradze said that the concerned public was closely watching Georgia-Gazprom negotiations over additional gas supplies to Georgia.

"The first reason of their concern is that the Georgian Government was hiding the negotiations for some time, and the meetings were only revealed after Russia's news agencies openly reported on them,” Bakradze said.

For the second reason, he blamed statements made by Georgia’s Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, a former football player.

“Every time Kaladze made statements regarding this issue, he contradicted his previous words. All these things raise legitimate doubts and question marks regarding genuine subjects, as well as the scale and reasons of the negotiations. We want to state clearly that we remember what it means to cooperate with Gazprom. We remember how bad it was being connected with this company,” stated Bakradze.

Bakradze said it was the merit of the UNM Government Georgia freed from Russian energy dependence.

"Today we have every reason to believe that the government of Georgia wants to drag the country back into Russian darkness. That is why the UNM will hold this symbolic protest rally. We want to show our position, and clearly tell both the Georgian and Russian governments that Gazprom’s time in Georgia is over. The Georgian people made their European decision a long time ago, and we must keep to this chosen course,” stated Bakradze.

Fellow party member Sergo Ratiani noted the rally - which will take place on March 6 - is going to be peaceful. According to him, a chain made of people will be formed from the Government’s Administration Building to the Russian Embassy.

Georgia’s Energy Minister says Georgia requires additional gas supplies which cannot currently by provided from Azerbaijan, Georgia’s major gas supplier.

As a transit fee, Georgia received 10% of all Russian gas transported to Armenia via Georgia. On top of that, Georgia also imported 75 million cubic meters of gas from Russia in 2015, according to the Energy Ministry.

Russia now wants to pay money instead of giving gas, but experts say it will not be financially beneficial for Georgia.

Kaladze said that both providing additional gas and the transit free gas issues are being discussed at negotiations with the Russians.