A screengrab from March 22, 2013 Obieqtivi TV program showing Irma Inashvili (left), who was Alliance of Patriots’ Tbilisi mayoral candidate, and chairman of the same party Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi (right) in Batumi studio speaking against a proposal to build a new mosque in Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Republic, claiming that such a plan is part of Turkey’s “expansionist policy.”
After scoring the fourth best result in the June 15 local elections, Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, party which is for a delay in signing of free trade treaty with the EU and says that talk of Georgia’s NATO membership is “fruitless”, states that it now has an ambition of “winning” the parliamentary polls in 2016.
Alliance of Patriots, which is spearheading anti-Turkish sentiments, was registered as a political party seventeen months ago. In the June 15 local elections the party garnered 6.34 % in party-list vote in Tbilisi and will have two seats in the capital city’s new Sakrebulo (City Council), according to preliminary official results. Its Tbilisi mayoral candidate, Irma Inashvili, received 5.37% of votes.
Alliance of Patriots ran in party-list contest for Sakrebulo seats in 47 out of 71 municipalities and cities and its aggregate vote result stands at 4.72%.
It cleared 4% threshold in 30 out of those 47 municipalities and cities, where the party submitted its party lists for proportional contest, meaning that the Alliance of Patriots will have representatives in 30 Sakrebulos, including Tbilisi. Among those municipalities and cities where the Alliance of Patriots failed to clear 4% threshold are Signagi; Lagodekhi; Telavi municipality; Marneuli; Bolnisi; Tsalka; city of Gori and Gori municipality; Akhaltsikhe city and Akhaltsikhe municipality; Mestia; Kharagauli; Sachkhere; Zestaponi; Samtredia; Abasha and Keda.
Mayoral candidates nominated by the Alliance of Patriots succeeded in going into second round in two cities and will now face Georgian Dream candidates in the runoffs in Poti and Ozurgeti. Its candidates for gamgebeli (municipal executive) posts will face GD candidates in Lanchkhuti and Khulo municipalities in the second round runoffs. Its election results make the party eligible to state funding.
Although it was formed as a political party year and a half ago, founders of the Alliance of Patriots are not newcomers in Georgia’s public life and politics. The party was formed based on Resistance Movement, a group which was a fierce critic of formerly ruling party United National Movement (UNM). Obieqtivi, the party’s mouthpiece broadcast channel available on cable networks across the country, as well as on satellite and FM radio station, is run by Irma Inashvili, who was Tbilisi mayoral candidate from the Alliance of Patriots.
“I am surprised why our [election] result was a surprise for some people,” says Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi, chairman of the Alliance of Patriots, a mathematician, who was head of the state department for information technologies in early 2000s and who served as head of customs department for several months in 2003.
“These people [united in the party] have been active in the public life or in politics in one form or other for many years already,” he said on June 19.
“Our contribution in defeating of Saakashvili’s regime is huge and I think it would have been impossible to defeat that regime without our contribution,” says Tarkhan-Mouravi, who also runs series of programs on Obieqtivi TV involving his hour-long lectures about Bible and Orthodox Christianity.
Giorgi Lomia, who is now Alliance of Patriots’ political secretary, and Irma Inashvili, as well as some others from the same group, claim credit for obtaining prison torture videos, which were released ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections in which UNM was defeated by now ruling GD coalition.
“Throughout these years we have been struggling for our country to live based on rules of religious and cultural traditions and for our people to think based on the Georgian mentality; throughout these years we have been fighting for restoration of justice and for the Georgian interests to be protected in Washington and not for Washington’s interests being protected in Tbilisi,” Tarkhan-Mouravi says.
When in April, 2013 then PM Bidzina Ivanishvili was asked if he saw possibility of emergence of a third political force in the country, other than GD and UNM, he responded that he had such a desire and called on Nino Burjanadze’s party, former foreign minister Salome Zourabichvili’s party, as well as the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia to become more active on the political scene. “I had a meeting with Irma Inashvili and I conveyed my desire to them as well that they have a party and it would be good if they develop it and become active,” Ivanishvili said in April, 2013.
While not a fierce critic of the Georgian Dream ruling coalition as a whole, Alliance of Patriots’ target of attacks is the Republican Party, a liberal party within the ruling coalition. Alliance of Patriots says that ideologically there is little difference between UNM and the Republican Party. “Their [UNM and Republican Party’s] ideology is not acceptable for the Georgian people,” Tarkhan-Mouravi says.
One of the issues over which the Alliance of Patriots is criticizing the government is, as they put it, keeping “criminal organization” UNM afloat. Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi was saying in April that the GD is reluctant to take any radical measures against UNM leadership as it was trying “to please certain influential circles” in the West and listed U.S. Senator John McCain and billionaire financier George Soros among those “influential circles.” He also says that the U.S. does not want UNM to “disappear” from the political scene as it “wants us to get accustomed to two-party system – UNM and Republican Party.”
“The government blindly continues being a slave of international gang and McCain, Saakashvili, Soros are part of this gang,” Tarkhan-Mouravi says.
After the local elections in which the UNM garnered in nationwide party-list vote 22.41%, Tarkhan-Mouravi said election results were manipulated by the authorities in order to again “please certain forces in the West” by “giving” UNM second place in the elections.
Notion similar to this one is also pushed by Nino Burjanadze and her United Opposition coalition, which scored the third best result in the June 15 local elections with nationwide 10.22% in party-list vote. Burjanadze says that some within GD, and in particular the Republican Party, want to “score political points from certain circles in the West” by contributing to “survival” of UNM.
Alliance of Patriots says that it “supports Georgia’s European membership”, but speaks out strongly against what is calls “palming off” various laws onto Georgia and specifically anti-discrimination law.
“No one wants discrimination, but when you look into that law you will see what a disaster it is,” the chairman of the party says.
Alliance of Patriots’ secretary general, Soso Manjavidze, who will be one of the two members from the party in the newly elected Tbilisi Sakrebulo, was fined with GEL 100 for petty hooliganism after disrupting a procession marking anti-homophobia day in Tbilisi on May 17, 2012. According to a February-May report by Tbilisi-based Media Development Foundation, which monitors hate speech in political discourse in the media, Tarkhan-Mouravi is listed among the politicians who used “discriminatory language” most frequently.
On the Association Agreement with the EU, which Georgia plans to sign on June 27, including its economic part on deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA), Tarkhan-Mouravi says that while his party supports signing of the political part of this treaty, Georgia should not hurry with signing of DCFTA as it would have “negative consequences” on the country because Georgia is not ready for that now.
“Those who know this agreement and those who understand what does it mean integration into Europe and know about processes taking place in Greece, Spain, Portugal, they should understand that Georgia cannot at all implement economic part of the agreement – it simply cannot implement it, it will cause very negative consequences for us,” Tarkhan-Mouravi said in remarks to Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Second Channel on June 19.
He also said that now it is a perfect time to engage in “trade-off” with the EU and achieve as much financial support as possible to prepare for DCFTA for a later date.
“We should demand money from Europe in order to prepare our country for application of the economic part of the treaty,” he said. “Georgia’s integration into Europe is now more important for Europe itself rather than for us.”
When speaking about Georgia’s NATO integration, Tarkhan-Mouravi says that he is “pragmatic” and when U.S. President Barack Obama states that Georgia is not on a path to NATO and when German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there will be no membership action plan (MAP) for Georgia, “I will not start deluding myself by saying that we will be accepted into NATO.”
“I think it is fruitless to talk about something, where no one is accepting us,” Tarkhan-Mouravi said.
“I feel insulted, because we are begging for NATO membership for almost 15 years and for 15 years we are being told that they will accept us today, tomorrow, never; I am tired; it is humiliating for me,” he continued. “We have sacrificed Tskhinvali and Sokhumi for this struggle and today we still hear from Mr. Obama that we are not on NATO path and then from Merkel that they are not going to give us MAP. I won’t start telling people things that the government is saying that ‘if there is no MAP, there will be something else.’ What is that something else? Again words on the paper that we will someday join the NATO or what?”
“We should not speak about something that does not exist and we should stop deceiving the public,” he added.
Alliance of Patriots has been in forefront of a campaign against a proposal to construct a new mosque in Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Republic, claiming that such a plan is part of Turkey’s “expansionist policy.”
“Turkey has never been, is not and will never be our friend – even a person with zero intellect should understand it,” Tarkhan-Mouravi said on June 8. “Saakashvili has actually sold Adjara to Turkey – Turkey has a simple plan to change a demographic picture there, and then influence politics there and some day they even may hold a referendum about annexation of Adjara.”
He says that he welcomes PM Irakli Garibashvili’s cautious remarks about Russia. “Russia’s goal is a complete takeover of Georgia – we should be careful in order not to give Moscow any pretext and not to provoke it, including by talking about NATO,” Tarkhan-Mouravi said in April.
Responding to UNM’s allegations that the Alliance of Patriots is a pro-Russian party, Irma Inashvili said in an interview with Rustavi 2 TV on June 17 that the former ruling party itself is Russia’s “agent”, which, she said, gave as a “gift” 20% of Georgia’s territories to Russia, referring to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Responding to similar allegations in April, Inashvili said: “Which normal person in our country would be willing to be with Putin?”
Alliance of Patriots’ chairman Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi says that with its results in the June 15 local elections, his party has made a significant step forward “giving us one more lever on the road towards parliamentary elections.” He says that the party now has an ambition of “wining the parliamentary elections” in 2016.
“We already have large number of supporters and I am sure this support base will increase further in the lead up to the parliamentary elections… Number of our supporters will be more than that of the Georgian Dream,” Tarkhan-Mouravi says.
During its campaign head of the local elections the Alliance of Patriots was promising voters housing program for homeless people; municipal hospitals in twelve self-governed cities, providing services free of charge; social canteens and providing clothing free of charge for socially vulnerable people during the winter period.