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UNM’s rally in Batumi, followed backlash

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Monday, October 19
The United National Movement held a rally in Batumi, which was attended by thousands of people. The ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the gathered, and claimed that the government had artificially spread Coronavirus in Batumi.

The rally, which was attended by thousands of people, was followed by huge criticism from society and other political leaders. Recently, Sergi Kapanadze, the head of the European Georgia election headquarters stated that their plans to hold a protest rally would have been canceled because of the pandemic situation in the country.

The Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze commented on the UNM’s rally in Batumi and said that Georgia is fighting against two viruses, ‘Coronavirus and the UNM.’ Also, Ombudsperson of Georgia Nino Lomjaria said that when it comes to the critical situation like the country is in today, it is ‘extreme irresponsibility’ to gather such a large number of people for a rally, without following any guidelines.

The Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze also assessed the act as irresponsible behavior and added that the fact forces the country to have to double the health resources. According to him, it was a ‘shameful attack’ on public health and the safety of citizens.

According to the Executive Secretary of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, the rally organized by the National Movement in Batumi is not only irresponsible, but also a deliberate harm. He spoke about it at a briefing in the party office. According to him, the opposition party gathered about 1,500 people for the rally and took them to Batumi. Kobakhidze added that this deliberate action was aimed at “facilitating the spread of the virus in the country and moving it from Batumi to other districts.”

Zaal Udumashvili, the leader of the United National Movement, says that the party is planning on more gatherings. As he explains, they had mobilized thermo screening machines and face masks, though they did not expect such a large number of people.

The rally was held in Batumi, Ajdara, which has been the epicenter of the virus in the last few weeks.