An opposition rally outside the Parliament, dubbed by organizers as Public Assembly, dispersed peacefully couple of hours after its launch on November 25 with some organizers publicly expressing disappointment over turnout, lower than they expected.
Several thousands of protesters were gathered at the rally, which was the largest since lengthy street protests in spring, 2009.
After the organizers announced about the end of the rally it triggered protest of some participants, complaining that they were disappointed by the decision to disperse. Small group of protesters were remaining outside the Parliament as of evening, although traffic, which was blocked during the rally, was reopened.
Organizers – several opposition parties, among others ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze’s party and the National Forum – said that the rally marked the launch of a process, which should eventually lead to resignation of President Saakashvili.
But as one opposition politician from National Forum party, Gubaz Sanikidze, told protesters “more people, than currently present here, is required” in order to achieve the goal. In his address to the rally, Sanikidze criticized those who had snubbed the rally and told the participants “not to be disappointed”.
“If we fail today, we will accomplish [the goal] tomorrow,” he said and added that active campaigning should now start in the provinces to mobilize more supporters.
Nino Burjanadze, leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, who was in forefront of the People’s Assembly movement, told the rally: “We are launching uncompromising struggle for dismantling of Saakashvili’s regime, which will definitely be accomplished with victory.”
She said that “committees” of supporters would be established in the regions in charge of campaigning in the provinces in order “to prepare for disobedience campaign.”
Irakli Batiashvili, an opposition politician behind the Public Assembly movement, told the rally, that in case of a large-scale rally the organizers were ready for launch of decisive actions for achieving the goal from today. “But now we will have to show more patience… including for setting up disobedience committees in the regions,” Batiashvili said.
The organizers’, however, said that the turnout was enough for making Public Assembly’s decisions at the rally – including “vote of no confidence to President Saakashvili” and “annulment of constitutional amendments” – “legitimate”. The rally included, what the organizers called, “delegates” from the regions, who were selected in their local communities. The rally also includes activists and supporters of those opposition parties, which initially were skeptical about the initiative, but eventually decided to join it – the National Forum was one of such parties.
Most of those opposition parties, which participated in the May local elections, refused to join the rally, except of Conservative Party and People’s Party.
The rally outside the Parliament was extensively covered by the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV, including through providing live footage. The rally was far from being top news for Georgian public broadcaster and two another nationwide broadcaster, Rustavi 2 TV and Imedi TV, which mentioned the rally only briefly in their news bulletins at 4pm, 3pm and 5pm, respectively.