Opposition Launches ‘Town of Cells’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Apr.'09 / 17:07
Source: Civil.Ge

Opposition leaders told thousands of supporters at the rally on April 21 that they would not step back in their drive to force President Saakashvili to resign.

Levan Gachechiladze, an opposition politician and one of key figures during the ongoing protests, said the opposition was launching campaign of “a cell town” involving setting up of mocked-up cells on Rustaveli Avenue in front of the Parliament and around key government buildings to mount more pressure on the authorities.

“Today we will launch the construction of a town of cells,” he told the rally outside the Parliament. “Cells will be installed from the Liberty Square up to this place and this ‘town of cells’ will exist until Mikheil Saakashvili resigns.”

“Today we will picket the parliament building by these cells and tomorrow the State Chancellery [the Prime Minister’s and government’s administration] will be surrounded by these cells… From the day after tomorrow we will start setting up of cells around other government buildings and we will announce about details tomorrow,” Gachechiladze added.

This portion of Gachechiladze’s statement was aired live by the public TV. Two small Tbilisi-based television stations, Maestro and Kavkasia, are airing the rally in live.

The idea of installing mocked-up cells on the Rustaveli Avenue came recently from a singer and activist Giorgi Gachechiladze, who is in a self-imposed ‘imprisonment’ in ‘a cell’ packed with TV cameras in Maestro TV studio since late January. Giorgi Gachechiladze, who is brother of Levan Gachechiladze, has turned in to one of the leading figures behind the rallies, as his reality TV show ‘Cell No. 5’ is viewed as an important tool behind the anti-Saakashvili campaign. Giorgi Gachechiladze vowed he would not leave his improvised ‘cell’ unless President Saakashvili resigned. Few mocked-up cells were set up last week outside the public TV and the presidential residence.

On April 21 he left his ‘cell’ briefly to address the rally outside the Parliament, where received a hero's welcome.

In an emotional speech, combined with patriotic lyrics, Giorgi Gachechiladze told the protesters: “I am sure this nightmare for Georgians will end soon, in several days and the era which is dreamed about by the Georgians will start… Believe me I am permanently in thinking to get him somewhere to arrest him; I am sure I will do that.” He also said that President Saakashvili should “wake-up” and realize public protest and resign as soon as possible if he did not want “to be kicked out from his office and arrested.”

After the speech he went to participate in installing improvised cells on the Freedom Square, before going back to his TV studio turned into the mocked-up cell. 

Traffic on the Rustaveli Avenue outside the Parliament has been blocked since the launch of protests on April 9. With the expansion of the campaign on April 21 the traffic was also blocked on the Freedom Square, where the Tbilisi City Council is located. 

Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, told the protesters earlier that the opposition would launch “active actions in frames of constitution” to mount more pressure on the authorities.

“Along with the protest rally on the Rustaveli Avenue, we should carry out active actions in other parts of the city, outside the government buildings… I am ready to undertake very active actions together with you and we will definitely achieve success through these active steps,” she said.

Irakli Alasania, the leader of Alliance for Georgia, told the rally that “we have such a goal which it is impossible to step back from.”

“Many people thought that our unity would not have lasted for even a week,” Alasania said. “But we all believed that our unity around one goal was a precondition for a success.”

“We plan to make changes peacefully and constitutionally and this momentum will not decrease in Georgia; it will be spread throughout the regions and soon we will all celebrate the victory,” Alasania added.

Opposition leaders also said that their activists were already campaigning in the provincial regions to mobilize supporters there and to bring them to the capital city in next few days.

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