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Shame Movement Agrees to Join Todays Rally, Invites President to June 20 Demonstration

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, June 16, 2022
President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili addressed the organizers of the June 20 rally during her briefing, saying “if they think about it, this rally, which is associated with many dangers, may be postponed”.

She said now is not the time to show political ambitions and divide the society. Zourabichvili also warned the authorities that if the rally were to be held on June 20, the government would be responsible for all incidents, because the right to demonstrate must be protected and guaranteed.

One of the organizers of the aforementioned demonstration, ‘Shame’ movement accepted President’s invitation and offered her an invitation from self-organized civil society groups to attend a ‘Home - to Europe’ rally, which is scheduled to begin near the Parliament on June 20 at 8 pm and end at Europe Square.

As for the president's proposal to postpone the June 20 rally, ‘Shame’ replied using Zourabichvili’s words: ‘No and never!’.

Recall that this was Zourabichvili’s response to the speculations that she would pardon ex-president Saakashvili, and later, ex-director of TV Rustavi 2.

“For more than a week, civil society has been preparing for the June 20 rally, which aims to unite the Georgian people despite their political, ideological or other differences. Before making a historic decision, Georgian civil society must show its European partners that European integration is one of the rarest issues in which there is no polarization in society.

It is contradictory that President Zourabichvili, who calls on the civil society for consolidation for European integration, at the same time means an alternative action and offers the organizers of the June 20 rally to cancel the event. “No and never!” Movement wrote.

According to the organization, in a country where we celebrate the New Year twice, it won’t hurt if we celebrate our commitment to European integration twice.

The civil movement ‘Shame’ was formed as a result of a long protest against the Georgian Dream government in 2019 following the night of June 20-21, when Georgian authorities used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators protesting the visit of Russian Duma Communist MP Sergei Gavrilov to Georgia and attempts to remove him from the chair of parliament in Russian.

Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream ruling party, said his team would not join the rally planned by the president.

Kobakhidze states that the rally is unprepared and this is the criterion on the basis of which will not participate in it. According to him, such an unprepared rally will have a gap in terms of logistics and mobilization, which will only diminish the factual data that the 85% of the population supports EU membership.

In the context of this rally, the President called for unification with the ‘National Movement’, which, in Kobakhidze’s opinion, is not serious.

“In addition, the EU should make a fair decision based on an assessment of the achievements of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. In terms of a fair assessment, there is no alternative to granting candidate status to Georgia. We will wait for the decision of the EU, we have faith that tbe truth and justice will prevail - these are the values on which the EU was founded.”

Party European Georgia also announced that they will not join the June 16 rally, which, according to them, serves the purpose to demonstrate that the will of the Georgian people and the wishes of Bidzina Ivanishvili are identical and they are not going to help the government to strengthen this message.

The party of ex-PM Giorgi Gakharia will not join either of the rallies, though they welcomed the citizens’ decision to demonstrate their position on EU integration. They added that their number one task is to work with partners, which they do on a daily basis, so that Georgia receives candidate status.

The president's initiative was negatively assessed by Girchi - More Freedom as well.

‘Lelo’, ‘Citizens’ and ‘Shame’ movement will join the rally on June 16. Leader of Lelo announced that the party will be present at both rallies.

German Ambassador to Georgia Hubert Knirsch said he would participate in a public rally planned in Tbilisi on Thursday as well.

“It is remarkable that the head of state calls on the citizens to publicly show their position about Europe. I will be at Europe Square tomorrow to witness this declaration of intent,” the German Ambassador said.

Recall that the President invited ambassadors of EU countries to Georgia for the occasion, which comes amid the European Commission’s deliberation over the country’s application for membership candidate status.

On June 23-24, the Georgian government will receive a response from the European Council to its application for EU membership, which the country has completed together with Ukraine and Moldova.