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Opposition Gears Up for ‘Decisive Stage’ of Protests
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Apr.'09 / 00:55

Protesters will reconvene outside the Parliament at 3pm on Tuesday for, as the opposition says, decisive stage of its campaign to force President Saakashvili to resign.

Protests, which started on April 9, took a break for Easter celebrations; small group of opposition activists, however, kept rallying round-the-clock outside the Parliament, the presidential residence and public TV.

On April 20 leaders of opposition parties, which are behind the ongoing protests, gathered in the office of Conservative Party to discus the action plan. After the meeting the opposition leaders said that supporters from eastern Georgia would join the rally in Tbilisi from April 21 and from other provinces in following days. The opposition plans to announce some of the details of its action plan at the rally outside the Parliament.

Salome Zourabichvili, leader of Georgia’s Way party, said after the meeting that involvement of supporters from the provincial region was of “symbolic nature” with goal to make provinces part of the campaign and its primary aim was not to increase turnout of supporters at the rallies.

“This wave, which we are launching from tomorrow, should have daily increasing momentum,” she said.

After the meeting the opposition parties released a joint statement, which was posted on the Conservative Party’s website, saying that “Saakashvili’s authoritarian regime has extremely complicated peaceful and constitutional power transition.”

“But despite of that, we are fully aware and we have numerously stated, that pushing political processes out of constitutional course contains more danger for the country,” the statement reads.

It also says that series of attacks on opposition activists and participants of the demonstrations aimed at “dragging the opposition into a violent confrontation,” which will be a pretext for the authorities “to legitimize its violence.”

“The society response to this challenge was effective and adequate, without responding violence with the violence,” the statement reads. “Morally and politically bankrupt authorities have nothing left except of resorting to larger scale provocations… Each and every call or step made by us will be legal and non-violent. We will achieve Saakashvili’s resignation through endurance and firmness.”

On April 20 the Interior Ministry posted on its website a brief video footage showing a young man, said to be an opposition activist. In the footage, the man is telling investigators in front of camera that some opposition representatives, whom he does not specify, wanted to use his trivial quarrel over car incident, not related with politics, for portraying as a politically-motivated attack on the opposition activist.

The release of the video came amid increasing criticism of the police for, as the opposition and some human rights groups call it, “turning a blind eye” on cases of attacks on opposition activists and its supporters.

After the video was released, Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement-United Georgia party (DMUG) said that the young man in the video was its activist and the party new about the incident. Roman Kusiani of DMUG said on April 20, that after the incident the man himself offered the portray the quarrel, in which he was beaten, as a politically motivated attack. Kusiani said that the party immediately distanced itself from the man and had never claimed that the incident was politically motivated.

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