The resignation of the prime minister and the arrest of an opposition leader once again destabilize the small Caucasian country
The opposition accuses the current government of moving the country away from the path towards integration into the EU and NATO, and of bringing the country closer to Moscow
In Georgia, a small former soviet republic history plagued with shocks, political spirits tend to run rough, with cyclical street protests and a perennial feeling of instability floating in the environment. In June of last year, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the disrespectful behavior exhibited by Sergei Gavrílov, a Russian communist deputy, during an official visit. A year earlier, tens of thousands of young people took over the center of Tbilisi, the capital, to express his outrage at some aggressive police raids in nightclubs. In the almost three decades since independence, the country has suffered at least three armed conflicts, in which he lost close to 20% of its national territory at the hands of separatist rulers backed from the Kremlin.
The latest episode in Georgia’s recent turbulent history has been the accident arrest of the main opposition leader, Nika Meliaalong with a score of past supporters 23 of February, accused of inciting the assault on Parliament two years ago. The arrest has led to unanimous criticism not only of the NGOs of human rights, but also of the US and the EU, which have called on the parties to resolve their differences through “talks“.
The police action has also taken its toll on the government party, Georgian dream. Days before, the prime minister, Giorgi Gajaria, a man who had earned a reputation as a good manager during the covid-19 pandemic, resigned because of his irreconcilable differences with his co-religionists regarding the treatment of the opposition leader, whom he preferred to keep free for the time being to avoid the polarization of the country. “I could not reach a consensus with my team and I resigned,” he justified himself. Your substitute in office, Irakli Garibashvili, culminated the task of penetrating the fortified headquarters of the United National Movement, the political formation of Melia, and sending the opponent to prison, unleashing a new wave of protests.
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“The condemnation of the actions of Georgian dream has been universal Y justified; There have been political arrests in Georgia before, but none of them that prominent; the violent scenes (that have been seen) are more typical of Russia or Turkey than of a country that is frequently described as a ‘beacon of democracy’ “, he criticized in an article recent Thomas de Waal, specialist in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus in the Carnegie Europe center. The democratic setback experienced in Georgia has been certified by the NGO Freedom House in a report released last May, which found growing problems in the judicial sphere, with controversial “appointments of judges” in the Supreme Court, and the “disproportionate use” of police force against protesters.
The shadow of Russia, the powerful neighbor to the north, a country that in the past supported rebellions in the secessionist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, hovers over the crisis. Bizdina IvanishviliThe former prime minister and the richest man in the country, with an estimated $ 5 billion fortune amassed in Russia during the privatizations of the 1990s, he is the leader and main promoter of the government Georgian Dream party. Many voices inside and outside the country accuse him of, secretly and through the back door, trying to put the country back into the orbit of the Kremlin, despite the fact that, in theory, there is a national consensus for the country to enter in the long term in the EU and NATO. “Ivanishvili has promoted Russian tourism and has invested his fortune in philanthropic projects, among other things, but nothing else,” he defends Arno Jindivbeguishvili, editor-in-chief of the Gruzhinform news agency, in a telephone conversation. Olesya Vartanyan, an expert in International Crisis Group, he assures in an email that he has not seen “any role for Russia” in the current crisis, although he admits that the “question of relations with Moscow is an issue that polarizes Georgian politics.”