‘Authorities will have to make a hard choice’
23 June, 2011
‘Authorities will have to make a hard choice’

When the Georgian Opposition-8 decided to depose the Government via elections, i.e. do something which is unconceivable in Georgian political history, non-aligned opposition used to ask ironically, since when ruling authoritarian elite have resorted to giving up the reins of power through the elections voluntarily. We asked Davit Usupashvili, Chair of the Republican Party to share with us what has he achieved through 10-month long negotiations with the Authorities and whether rumors about the Opposition-8 breakup are true. 

A: Opposition-8 managed

to reconcile differing positions of its constituent parties about elections and involve international community in the process.

Till autumn, the Authorities will have to make a hard choice: they either agree with us about issues related to the elections or reject everything and hence allow grounds for extensive questioning of election legitimacy by the outside world.

Q: Opposition-8 plans to meet people in the regions and conduct explanatory work. However, Irakli Alasania talks of rallies, which is unpopular with the Republicans.

A: This issue about rallies is exaggerated and overly publicized in order to give food for rumors that there is a discord in the Opposition-8. For me, rallies also mean people just meeting each other on streets, both under one ceiling or in the entrance hall of buildings, and printing and spreading information bulletin.

Q: What if a demonstration is held with a demand to the Government to improve election environment?

A: If any public organization, group of citizens or political party decides to demonstrate its position on this specific question, it would certainly be a positive move. In this regard, we allowed full freedom to each other.

Q: The Authorities raised the question of individual negotiations. Some Opposition-8 members said such negotiation would constitute bargaining with the Authorities.

A: The Opposition-8 did not give a mandate to any person or organization on arranging agreements with the Authorities on behalf of others. The mandate that we gave to each other is a delivery of any message from the Authorities to the whole Opposition-8 to decide on further joint response.

Q: Gubaz Sanikidze, leader of Popular Forum said that he would support a start of civic movement.

A: It was the Opposition-8, not Gubaz Sanikidze, who announced it during the meeting with public on 7 June. We do not call on people to come out and support the Opposition-8. We offer them collaboration within civic movement.

Q: In doing so, would the Opposition-8 not resemble the Popular Council?

A: Why shall we keep away from engaging people, even if the Popular Council tried to do it offhandedly?

Q: How do you explain the legislative changes?

A: The law on Demonstrations and Manifestations practically prohibits manifestations. It’s a scared Government. They intensify repressions.

Q: Do you link it to the entry of the revenue office into Media Palitra?

A: Your Media Holding frustrated the Authorities. They seemed to have prepared to attack. What they did on 7 June however is directly linked to the Opposition-8 initiative. The checkup of Media Palitra is a result of its work for all the recent years. Print publications of this media house, radio and Internet TV gained authority in the Georgian population. I would accentuate unprecedented events happening along the way, for example, the position of the American Embassy expressed at two visits to the Media Palitra which was undergoing the checkup by the revenue office.

The Media Palitra did not believe the scandalous explanation of the Authorities that it was computer that randomly gave the list of six businesses for a checkup operation, of which all the six turned out to belong to the Media House. I cannot remember a single fact when the international community reacted with such a sharp, instant and telling feedback.

Hence, at the front where we fight for democracy one more wave of offensive has set in. This is the fight of the Authorities against independent media. We all have to defend it.

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