Business and media tycoon, Badri Patarkatsishvili, said he would finance ten opposition parties’ campaign aimed at holding parliamentary elections in April, instead of late 2008.
He said in a written statement issued on October 28, he would provide funding to the opposition for holding protest rallies “in a civilized manner.” Opposition plans a large scale rally in Tbilisi on November 2 after holding series of protest rallies in the provinces.
Although there have been widespread speculations about Patarkatsishvili already financing the opposition, his statement marks a rare case in Georgia when a person publicly announces about plans to fund political parties. Patarkatsishvili’s Imedi holding, consisting of the TV and radio stations already dedicate significant time to opposition's message.
“Recent developments, including the wave of protest rallies makes me think that the country is on the verge of a serious political crisis,” Patarkatsishvili said. “I hope everyone, first and foremost the authorities, fully understand the responsibility they have to prevent provocations that may trigger developments beyond the constitutional frames.”
He said that opposition was short of finances which in turn could deter their attempts to organize protest rallies in “a civilized manner.”
Patarkatsishvili also pointed out that he “fully supports” the joint manifesto of the opposition parties in which they have outlined their vision on elections, the distribution of powers, the judiciary, territorial integrity, local self-governance, free media, property rights, business, social policy, national values and foreign policy.
Ten opposition parties then specified four major demands in a letter to President Saakashvili and Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze. These demands include: holding parliamentary elections in spring 2008; creation of the new election administrations with representatives from political parties; change of the current majoritarian election system – a first-past-the-post, “winner takes all” system; release of “political prisoners” and “prisoners of conscience” - specifically of Irakli Batiashvili.
“I believe that the developments will not go beyond the constitutional frames and the opposition will remain united and committed to principles outlined in the manifesto. I think this [manifesto] reflects demands of the Georgian people and, as an ordinary citizen of this country, I also share these [principles],” Patarkatsishvili said.
The statement by Patarkatsishvili, who is currently in London, comes after he unveiled his vision on domestic and foreign policy priorities in a document issued on October 17. On October 10 he said that the current “difficult situation” in the country could force him to enter politics.