Opposition Capers

A few more details on what the opposition has been up to the past few weeks.

Here’s a remarkable story from blog.tagesschau.de (thanks to Till Bruckner for this) by Sylvia Stoeber, revealing how shamelessly and ineptly sections of the opposition—in this case the egregious Burjanadze—distribute lies to the public.  Here’s a translation of the relevant parts:

With and without bandage (Mit und ohne Verband)

Photo from the blog.tagesschau.de story

That's Burjanadze second from left. (Photo: blog.tagesschau.de)

(…) On 10 April, the former head of parliament [Burjanadze]
presented one of her staff to the press. She claimed that his head has
sustained a serious injury [through violent attack]. The man had a
bandage on his head.

Another photo from the blog.tagesschau.de story

An hour before the press conference. (Photo: blog.tagesschau.de)

But only one hour earlier, he had been photographed in her office
without bandage and without injury on this spot [by this journalist].
Confronted with this photograph, Burjanadze affirmed that her office
would give details on the paramedics who had been called out to help.
She failed to supply these. The man himself had suddenly disappeared.
He had to recover and his phone was broken, said Burjanadze’s
spokesperson. [adds that the incident had not been registered with the
ombudsman]


In case one thinks this is an isolated incident, there was at least one other report of a similar nature a while ago on civil.ge.  The relevant sections of the article:

On April 28 the Republican Party said Vano Lomidze, head of its regional office in town of Kvareli, eastern region of Kakheti, was attacked and beaten up by four unknown men close to Kvareli while he was driving from Tbilisi. The party and Lomidze himself said that assailants had also burnt his SUV.

[…]

On April 29 the Interior Ministry released a video footage of Lomidze’s testimony in which he admits setting fire to his car, which was insured against fire. Police also said that Lomidze was not at all attacked or beaten up either.

I suppose it’s possible that the Interior Ministry sweated Lomidze until he changed his story, but judging from the opposition’s behaviour in general I’m inclined to follow the Ministry’s explanation here…

In addition, splits in the opposition seem to be emerging, making it seem that each new brainstorm they come up with—the ‘city of cells’, the blockade of the highways–is the fruit of increasing desperation.  As deadlines for Saakashvili’s resignation come and go; as the once vociferous protesters slink back into the countryside; and as residents of Tbilisi become increasingly annoyed at the disruption to the city, the obvious incompetence of opposition leaders, and the total lack of results, one gets the sense that the opposition is fragmenting further (not that it ever had much unity).  Here are some sections of an article in the Kommersant (thanks to Tim Blauvelt for this) outlining some of the rifts:

Georgian parliamentary speaker David Bakradze made a sensational admission: recently he “met secretly with some of the opposition leaders.” This means that the Georgian authorities have succeeded in splitting the ranks of the opposition, bringing part of its leadership to the negotiations in which some of Saakashvili’s opponents have so far refused to take part.

[…]

Alasania had himself insisted to Kommersant the night before that he would not go to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, and instead intended to observe the ceremony in the church where his own priest serves. But he surprised everybody by turning up in the cathedral. Spotting him, Saakashvili declared to those gathered that he was ready “to be the first to offer my hand to the opposition in a sign of forgiveness and repentance.” Following these words, the Head of State headed in the direction of Alesania and offered him his hand in a grand gesture, and Alasania accepted it. Both tried not to look the other in the eye.

This scene caused confusion among the other opposition leaders. “We made a decision in solidarity that we would not go to the cathedral, since Mikheil Saakashvili would use our presence for his PR campaign,” United Georgia party leader Eka Beselia told Kommersant, “but Irakli Alasania unexpectedly appeared there with Saakashvili. This was his decision, and we will certainly ask him why he made it.”

[…]


While leaving the Patriarch’s residence, Levan Gachechiladze and former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze emphasized that “negotiations with Saakashvili can only be about one issue: on guarantees of security for him and his family after his resignation.”

Irakli Alasania’s statement sounded at odds with this: “Negotiations should start without any preliminary conditions,” he said. “It is essential that they be thoroughly prepared, so that they will not be negotiations for the sake of negotiations, but rather will conclude with concrete results.” This statement signifies that the opposition is no longer united on the issue of negotiations with President Saakashvili.

Here’s a translation of the whole article (thanks again to Tim), which also has some interesting remarks on the role of the Patriarch in negotiations between opposition leaders and Saakashvili.

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