Kakha Kukava, co-leader of Conservative Party, said the opposition parties, behind ongoing protest rallies, should take a major decision before May 26 on tactics and to decide how to proceed further with the protests.
On May 26 – the Georgia’s Independence Day - opposition plans a large-scale rally or as it calls it “a public parade.” Some opposition leaders described the planned event as “a new April 9”, when tens of thousands of people rallied on the first day of launch of the ongoing street protests. Opposition leaders started campaigning in the provinces on May 20 in lead up to the “public parade.” A singer and activists, Giorgi Gachechiladze (with nickname Ucnobi – unknown), who has turned into an informal leader of the protests, is also involved in the process as he plans “protest concerts” in Batumi and Kutaisi before heading towards the capital city – or “march on Tbilisi” - with supporters to join “the public parade” on May 26.
“May 26 will be the day when Saakashvili will have to recognize that it is not only the protest of Vera and Vake [two elite neighborhoods in downtown Tbilisi], but of the entire Georgia,” Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party said while speaking at the Tbilisi-based FM radio station, Ucnobi, on May 19.
Kukava, however, said that by that time the opposition should make clear for the society how it plans to proceed further with the protests – whether it would choose “more radical forms of protests” or would incline towards dialogue including on proposals put forth by the President on May 11. He said that “uncertainty” on the matter was “dangerous” and threatened to diminish protest momentum.
“It is not a secrete at all there are differences on the matter among the opposition parties,” Kukava said and added that some opposition parties were in favor of taking more radical forms of protest, including blocking of key highways, and others, which are “moderates” inclining towards the dialogue with the authorities.
“I am in favor of radical forms of protests as I believe is the only way to fight against dictatorship,” Kukava said. “Blocking of highways is not a violation of law and there is nowhere written that it is a violation.”
He, however, also said that no matter in favor of which stance the decision was made, the Conservative Party would follow the joint decision and would not challenge the opposition’s unity.
“It is not of course a civilized form of protest to block highways, but we have a negative experience of working in commissions like the one offered by Saakashvili,” he said referring to the proposal to establish a commission on constitutional reforms.
The proposal was rejected by the opposition parties, behind the ongoing protests, but was picked up by the parliamentary minority group, which is now in the process of selecting a nominee for the commission chairmanship.
Kukava also said that the opposition was fully unanimous on the view that the President’s proposals were “totally unacceptable and inadequate.” “Even the so called moderates share that opinion,” he said.
He said that the opposition’s joint statement made on May 18 in response to the President’s proposals was a combination of two stances within the opposition as it contained both the radical, including President's resignation and more moderate demands, including, among other things, replacement of two powerful ministers for interior affairs and for justice, Vano Merabishvili and Zurab Adeishvili, respectively.
“Yes now I am a radical, but I will become a moderate with great pleasure if the authorities start implementing provisions of these proposals,” Kukava said.