The battle of Parliament: what can cause new protests in Georgia

Битва у парламента: к чему могут привести новые протесты в Грузии

Police in Tbilisi began to disperse the demonstrators blocking access to the Parliament building. SWAT uses tear gas and water cannons. In the morning of 18th November, the supporters of the opposition parties were not allowed on the jobs of MPs from the ruling “Georgian dream”. The protesters demanded to amend the Constitution and change the electoral system in the country with a mixed proportional. Even in the summer of 2019, the leader of the “Georgian dream” Bidzina Ivanishvili promised to make appropriate amendments. However, on 14 November, the bill did not receive the necessary support in Parliament, after which the country began to protest.Georgian special forces started to disperse protesters outside the Parliament building. It is reported that law enforcement officers used batons and water cannons.

On the morning of 18 November, the representatives of the Georgian opposition blocked the Parliament building of the country, smashing the front of the tent. The goal is not to go to the building the deputies of the ruling party “Georgian dream — democratic Georgia”. Several members of Parliament, tried this morning to get to their jobs, the protesters booed and chased away.

Yesterday, Sunday, in front of the main legislative body of the country held mass protest. The participants brought tents, and hung on the gates of Parliament, chain and lock. They are seeking the government’s resignation and early parliamentary elections under the proportional system.Thus, as stated by one of the leaders of the opposition, the representative of the party “European Georgia — the freedom movement” Gigi Ugulava, after the Parliament, the opposition can block other state institutions, including Tbilisi city hall, the ministries and the state Chancellery.

In turn, the leader of the “New Georgia”, Giorgi Vashadze said that in addition to the resignation of the Cabinet and new elections, the opposition will demand the establishment of the interim government and the release of the detained participants of anti-Russian riots that took place in Georgia this summer. Among them is former defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, arrested for inciting violence.

Recall, then the reason for the protests was the emergence of a Russian state Duma Deputy Sergei Gavrilov in the seat of the speaker of the Georgian Parliament during the session of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Due to concerns for the safety of Russian tourists in Moscow has suspended flights to Tbilisi.

In the Wake of protests by representatives of the Georgian opposition demanded from the government concessions in domestic policy. And the Georgian leadership they get. The founder of the “Georgian dream” Bidzina Ivanishvili promised to spend in the 2020 elections under the proportional system with zero barrier passage. Was granted another demand of the protesters — the resignation of the speaker of Irakli Kobakhidze.

Stopped reform

New protest rallies started in Georgia on 14 November, after Parliament failed to pass amendments to the Constitution on the introduction of a proportional electoral system. Earlier elections to the legislative Assembly were held under a mixed system, and that MPs from the “Georgian dream”, elected by majority constituencies, rejected the bill. When it developed it was the ruling party. The opposition accused “Georgian dream” and Bidzina Ivanishvili personally cheating. Several deputies, including Deputy speaker of Parliament Tamara Chugoshvili, left the ruling majority.

In turn, Ivanishvili blamed the party “United national movement”, founded by the ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. Allegedly non-constructive position of these parliamentarians thwarted attempts to gain support for electoral reform by the deputies-majoritarian.

Mikhail Saakashvili himself remained in the party and urged his supporters to “mobilize.”

Negative comments about the failure of electoral reform and the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, calling to make the necessary amendments.

“We are disappointed that during today’s vote, despite the support of opposition parties, an insufficient number of deputies from the party “Georgian dream” was supported by the adoption of the necessary constitutional amendments, the statement of the us Embassy. We urge all stakeholders in Georgia, including the government, all political parties and civil society to work together in peace and respect, to ensure progress in accordance with our common commitment to strengthening democracy in Georgia.”In turn, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), co-chair of the Caucus (an Association of politicians. — RT) in Georgia, commenting on the events in Tbilisi, said that “Georgians want government of the people, controlled by the people and for the people”.

“They want the government was more closely associated with the West and to Georgia recognizes as an ally of NATO. The failure of the adoption of the constitutional amendments will be a gift to Vladimir Putin and destroy the progress made by Georgia towards full independence and separation from aggressively encroaching on her territory of a neighbor in the face of Russia”, — said the American Congressman.

According to media reports, Russia frightened the citizens and one of the organizers of the demonstrations outside the Parliament is the representative of the youth movement “Ashamed” gig of Makarashvili. He noted that the protests give the Georgians a chance to “not go in the direction of Russia.”

As noted in an interview with RT, the Georgian analyst Archil Chkoidze, the question of the form of the electoral system actually does not matter for the alignment of political forces in the country.

“The opposition has no matter what electoral system is proportional or majoritarian. I think it’s just an excuse. They want to start a revolutionary process in Georgia. If it were not for this reason would have found another,” said Chkoidze.

Битва у парламента: к чему могут привести новые протесты в Грузии

Bidzina Ivanishvili, Reuters © David Mdzinarishvili

Disconnected the opposition

Demanding early parliamentary elections, made about 20 Georgian parties. In the United front have United such disparate political forces as the “United national movement” Saakashvili, “European Georgia”, “United Georgia” Nino Burjanadze, the labour party of Georgia, a breakaway from the “Georgian dream” in may, the party “For justice” and the libertarian party, “Garci” who have achieved in the past year, the decriminalization of marijuana in Georgia. They are all United against the “Georgian dream” and Bidzina Ivanishvili personally.

However, not all opposition members joined the Union. So, on Sunday when held a protest in front of the Parliament building, a separate demonstration on the square of the First Republic, held the party “Alliance of patriots of Georgia.”According to the police, if the Parliament it is 5.5 thousand people, the share of “Alliance of patriots” — 1,5 thousand Organizers, however, argue that actually the protesters were several times more. The manifestation of the “Alliance” was completed on Sunday evening, promising to stage protests in the regions, and by the end of November to hold a massive rally in Tbilisi.

“Alliance of patriots”, which received 5% of votes at the last election, known the skeptical position regarding membership of Georgia in NATO. Protests of this organization supported and right movement “Georgian March”, stating that only the actions of the “Alliance of patriots” “the interests of the Georgian nation.” One of the leaders of “Georgian March”, Sandro Bregadze, said that the protest at the Parliament are “butchers” party Giga Bokeria (the”European Georgia”) and Saakashvili. Also, according to him, representatives of the movement can’t stand in the same ranks with “LGBT activists, homosexuals-sorosite” in front of the Parliament on moral grounds.

As noted in an interview with RT Deputy Dean of the faculty of world economy and world politics VSHE Andrey Suzdaltsev, in fact, both the authorities and a large part of the opposition in Georgia are configured the same way Pro-Western.

“The difference in radicalism. More radicalism in opposition, less in the ruling circles. The opposition hopes that the formation of the Parliament according to the proportional system they will be able to win and take the majority. But early elections are possible only with the help of Washington. This will be determined not by Georgian voters,” said Suzdaltsev.

Possible consequences

On 17 November, the Chairman of the faction “Georgian dream” Mamuka Mdinaradze said that the election 2020 will be held, as before, under a mixed system. While the Georgian leadership shows no desire to yield to the demands of the opposition. In turn, at a briefing on Monday, the mayor of Tbilisi, the Secretary General of the “Georgian dream” Kakha Kaladze said that his party will not go to early elections, and urged the opposition to prepare for elections scheduled for next year. He also said that the protests should Mikheil Saakashvili and his supporters seeking to return to power.

Meanwhile, the mission of the U.S. and the EU urged the political actors in Georgia to dialogue. In their joint statement at the same time it is emphasized that the cause of the protests was the failure of the promises of the ruling parties on the transition to a proportional system and the U.S. Embassy and the EU support the right of Georgian citizens to demonstrate peacefully.On the need to find common ground between the authorities and the opposition have previously stated the President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili.

As noted in an interview with RIA Novosti former speaker of the Georgian Parliament Nino Burjanadze, street protests in Tbilisi can lead to negative consequences for the country if Ivanishvili does not make concessions.

“I am very concerned about the direction of street protests. Such events can lead to something spontaneous and dangerous,” said Georgian politician.

In turn, the Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze, a well-known stock against LGBT people, which involved the participation of representatives of the “Georgian March”, said in a video message to the citizens that Georgia needed “a popular revolution”. However, according to him, there is a danger that the US will slip Ivanishvili and “will return even worse liberals” to power.

According to Archil Chkoidze, despite the statements about unification of the Georgian opposition rallies on November 17 showed quite minor mobilization potential of the opposition.

“Yesterday the Parliament of Georgia had a maximum of five thousand people. At the same time people brought from the regions. Now there are a maximum of 200-300 people, and they block the Parliament of Georgia. Within the country there is no real protest, in the whole of Georgia is home to about four million people came out to protest a maximum of five thousand. It is very small,” — said the expert.

According to him, even if the authorities will announce early elections, the “30-40% still take the “Georgian dream”.

And Alliance of patriots of Georgia” will also collect at least 10-15%. “United National movement” along with its satellites will be able to take a maximum of 15-20%, but many they have, they still sit in the Parliament,” said Chkoidze.

At the same time, the analyst warns that if the opposition protest will receive financial and organizational makeup of the West, the Georgian government will face a difficult period.

“In Georgia a revolutionary movement, one in Georgia, the revolution does not want to, because remember what led to the revolutionary events in the 1990-ies, then in 2003, emphasizes the Georgian political scientist. But if the ultra-liberal forces of the West will Finance the protest and intervene in the Affairs of Georgia, I do not think that the Georgian government will be able to cope with them. Then, maybe, there will be problems. And if not, then after 2-3 days the Parliament will not remain a single person”.However, as the expert believes, the protests are unlikely to seriously spoil relations between Tbilisi and Moscow, although “any instability and problems in the state as it will be affected”.

Битва у парламента: к чему могут привести новые протесты в Грузии

The rally near the building of the Parliament of Georgia on November 17 © Vano Shlamov / AFPПо the opinion of Andrei Suzdaltsev, it is important to follow the U.S. reaction to developments in Georgia. The rhetoric in favor of the opposition can be a sign that Washington has decided to bet on a change of government, although now, according to the analyst, for the administration of Donald trump Georgia is of no particular interest. At the same time, according to the expert, a hypothetical rise to power of the opposition could aggravate relations between Georgia and Russia.

“We understand the opposition — the radical anti-Russian leaders. And if they come to power, and so in General bad relations with Georgia will deteriorate further”, — says Andrey Suzdaltsev.Alexander Bovdunov, Elizaveta Komarova

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