11/18/2022, 09.58
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Tbilisi, opposition divided between protests in parliament or on the streets

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Former President Saakashvili's National Movement chooses its new president. If elected, Georgij Mumladze promises tough politics against the pro-Russians of the Georgian Dream, now in power. Saakashvili, in prison and ill, is holding back. For ruling leader, the Movement is at an end.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Ahead of the anticipated congress to elect a new president, the main opposition political force in Georgia, the National Movement founded by former president Mikhail Saakashvili, is at a crossroads. Some of its members would like to act mainly in the parliamentary arena, aiming to replace the Georgian Dream in the country's government, others prefer the path of hard opposition outside the palaces of power.

One of the pretenders to the leadership of the Movement, Georgij Mumladze, has openly promised that if he is chosen, he will turn the group into 'the vanguard of street protests, without lounging around warming chairs in Parliament'. In order to give more strength to his appeal, Mumladze has been going with dozens of his supporters to the central Rustaveli prospekt for days, starting the election campaign with this, asking the current party leader Nika Melia to relinquish office immediately and make room for internal confrontation.

The radical wing of the Movement accuses Melia and his circle 'of having abandoned Saakashvili in jail, to let him die as Putin's prisoner'. Mumladze assured that if he is chosen, 'our only ideology will be patriotism, and certainly not only within the walls of the party or the government'. With revolutionary eagerness, the square leader reiterated that 'we are worried about this pro-Russian regime penetrating everywhere, orchestrated by Bidzina Ivanišvili [founder of the Georgian Dream] and his gang'.

Before taking the field a couple of years ago, Mumladze was known as a researcher at the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the 'Ilia' State University, and criticised both the majority and the opposition for their 'constitutional populism'. He then joined the '2020 Platform' of civic activism to found his own political movement 'For Georgia', which joined the National Movement as a supporter of Saakašvili.

Although he is not even a party member, Mumladze now opposes outgoing President Melia and the centrist Georgij Čaladze, head of the National Genetics Laboratory. Čaladze is a personal friend of Saakašvili's mother, Gyuli Alasania, with whom he often travels abroad to obtain support from international partners.

According to the secretary of the Movement's political bureau, Koba Nakopija, this 'wild fight' within the party does not really please the former president, who lies in the prison hospital with several rather serious illnesses. According to him, 'Saakašvili does not want to get involved, and he thinks that this is not the time to divide in this way... all our energies must be committed to something else, we must overthrow the ruling regime, not turn the National Movement inside out'.

Melia agreed with the founder, with whom there has been no lack of tension in the past. His decisions on his resignation as president and the timing of the internal consultation are unclear, however, while he is in Brussels to seek European support for the opposition's anti-Russian and anti-oligarchical line.

From the majority exponents of the Georgian Dream come predictions of the 'exhaustion of the National Movement', as President Iraklij Kobakhidze said in recent days, because 'it is the logical outcome of their political system'.

Culture Minister Teja Tsulukiani also stated that 'their party has been without a backbone for years, which was represented by former Prime Minister Vano Merabišvili; they have no real leader and the founder Saakašvili has been found guilty of various crimes, while their brain, former Justice Minister Zurab Adejšvili, is abroad... we will soon see their end'.

Certainly the crisis of the opposition is not helping the country to find a balance, and to find a way to be accepted in Europe, as the majority of the population of Georgia wishes.

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